For the past five years, Ethos has taken one Sunday each fall to ask you, our people to go to grocery stores around Nashville, buy food, and drop it off in a Uhaul truck to be donated to families in need. This hopefully has accomplished two goals: 1. To serve people in our city who are in need, and 2. To continue living into what it means to actually be the church.
Many of you may not know what happens with this food after it is dropped off and what it helps accomplish throughout the year. This year, we partnered with four different ministries or communities. We donated food to the ministries at Edgehill, Jackson St. (near Marathon Village), the food pantry at Eakin Elementary (near our Hillsboro Village location), and our friends at Youth For Christ.
Edgehill, Jackson Street, and Eakin Elementary have been more recently added to this initiative, but Youth For Christ has been the ministry we have donated to over the past several years. Ethos and Youth For Christ have a relationship that goes back about five years. Our friend, Ron Shepherd, has been using this food we’ve been donating to help the YFC ministry do incredible things in Nashville. We have asked him to tell the story of who Youth For Christ is and what they do. This year, you purchased and donated close to 1,000 full food boxes, and we wanted you to know part of where it’s going and what it’s helping to accomplish. We asked Ron a few questions, and here’s what he had to say...
Tell us a little about the history of Youth For Christ:
Since 1944, Youth for Christ has had a distinctive history of youth evangelism. In the early 1940s, during World War II, many young men, mostly ministers and evangelists, were holding large rallies in Canada, England and the United States. As the hunger for God’s Word grew it became evident that there needed to be someone to coordinate this movement, providing leadership, strategy, and coordinating speakers, musicians and locations. Beginning in dozens of cities at the end of World War II, YFC quickly organized into a national movement. Billy Graham became YFC’s first full-time staff member.
The YFC rallies drew thousands of young people to central auditoriums on Saturday nights. As the years passed, YFC’s ministry methodology turned to Bible clubs. It was during this period of ministry that the concept of teen-to-teen evangelism was birthed. In the mid sixties and early seventies, Campus Life ministries to high school and middle school students began to be the focus of YFC ministry.
Youth for Christ/USA is a chartered program of Youth for Christ International. More than 1500 paid staff members and 15,000 volunteers serve in more than 100 countries around the world.
What are some of the ministries that YFC has created or is involved in?
- Juvenile Justice Ministries - reaching at-risk and institutionalized youth.
- Teen Parents - mentoring and equipping young parents with parenting skills as well as the love of Jesus Christ.
- City Life - providing programs to reach millions of youth through holistic approaches.
- Friend to Friend - coaching students who, together, actively love in a way that naturally invites friends to follow Jesus with them.
- Military Youth Ministry - reaching teenagers on U.S. military bases throughout the world.
How did Ethos get involved with the food boxes?
We already knew Dave Clayton from a while back. We were going to deliver turkeys to the projects around Nashville, and Dave said “How can we help?” He thought that maybe Ethos could do the fixins around the turkey. The outpouring of generosity from Ethos church gave us enough food to distribute for months and months afterward. It's been going for four years since.
What will this food help accomplish this year?
We do Outdoor Worship Services in 7 communities around Nashville with our City Life program. We use the food to help meet the physical needs of these people. On some days these folks go without eating. Also, we are constantly delivering food to families that contact us and are in desperate need of food. An Outdoor Worship Service is done, and food is distributed after the service. Literally hundreds of people will hear the gospel, and many for the first time, because of this ministry that brings bread and “The Bread of Life” at the same time.
Can you share one story of how you’ve seen God move through this past year through one of the ministries that the food boxes help open doors for?
We had one young man and woman we met when distributing food and the gospel. The young lady was pregnant. They were not married. We shared Christ with them. They both made a decision to accept Christ. That Sunday they visited one of our partner churches. They ended up getting married in that church. They then got baptized in that church. Since then their entire family joined the church...PRAISE GOD!
As you can see, the food boxes you have purchased and donated go much farther than simply filling physical needs. God is using these boxes to touch hearts and change communities. May God receive all the glory and honor!