A Profound Meal

A Thanksgiving story from Dream Center volunteer Sam Carson.

clasped-hands-comfort-hands-people-45842
I am extremely thankful that my family and I were able to host another family for Thanksgiving dinner.

I was serving one Sunday morning at Restoring Place Church when I met a child named Jayden for the first time. Jayden asked me if he could have Thanksgiving with my family. Immediately I said, “Yes,” and silently questioned whether or not he was being serious. I see now that it was beyond Jayden just asking to eat with my family, it was God working through Jayden to plant a seed in me.

Thanksgiving was still a few weeks away when Jayden made his request to have dinner with my family, so I spent those next few weeks thinking through if this was a realistic request  and what preparation would need to happen in order for it to work well. All along I had been thinking that I would just go pick Jayden up and bring him to Gastonia with my family. Then my sister, Tasha, asked if his entire family could come. I immediately felt overwhelmed. In over my head. “Sure, one extra person we could do, but an entire family?” I knew that God was already working when Jayden asked to have Thanksgiving dinner with my family. I put my plan before God, and I was trusting that He was working to establish my steps. I trusted that God was leading me.

A few nights passed before I called Joanne as a way to get in touch with Jayden’s family. Joanne reached out to the family to see if they would be interested. The family said that they were, so Joanne connected me with Jayden’s Mom, Shareeta. I called Shareeta and asked her if she and her family wanted to come over to my house to have Thanksgiving dinner with my family. She told me that she would bring Jayden and herself along with her fiancée, but her daughters would be going with their grandmother. I was filled with excitement of what this could mean for their family as well as mine. This was an opportunity to share with people who may have never felt this sort of hospitality. This was going to be an exciting experience for both families.

By the time Thanksgiving day came, Shareeta had adjusted her plans to include her two daughters as well, Jaloria and Jamiah. Through this whole series of events I grew more ecstatic to have our two families collide, for the children in each family to play with each other and for us all to just be able to spend time together. Shareeta arrived with her fiancée, Will, and her three kids. It was a cold afternoon, so they came bundled up in jackets and toboggans. I welcomed them inside and began introducing them to my family as the food was finishing cooking. After a few minutes, our two families together circled up in the kitchen to pray and give thanks to God for the food that we were about to enjoy, as well as giving thanks to God for providing us salvation through His son Jesus.

The conversations around the dinner table were filled with pretty average small talk. But the Thanksgiving dinner altogether was far from average for both of our families.

God loves His creations and expresses this daily in tangible ways. My hope for Jayden’s family is that they would have felt the love God has for them through our service to them. My hope for my family is that we will grow in our service to God and to others, and that through our obedience, more people would come to be known by our Father.

God provides. Ask and you will receive. Knock and it will be opened to you.

 

Go With the Flow

A blog post from the heart of our associate director, Joanne Lowry.

It is easy to just go with the flow, to find a place of comfort in your relationship with Christ and others. When we are in this ‘go with the flow’ mentality we aren’t being intentional about pursuing all that God has in store for us and has prepared for us. “Spiritual growth requires an intentional effort. Spiritual stagnation and decline require no effort at all.” When we fail to exert these conscious acts we don’t receive all of the things God has for us. On a larger scale, when we aren’t intentional in our relationships with others, it is easy to make them feel like they are people of convenience not of worth.

pexels-photo-206660

It is part of our mission to make each and every person feel wanted, needed and accepted despite their situation. Intentionally loving others and making them feel like they BELONG, in the midst of what ever lifestyle they may be living paired with speaking and BELIEVING truth over their lives has the potential to produce a radical change in BEHAVIOR. We see growth in ourselves and in our community when we deliberately choose to help those around us. The goal is to be a group of people who live and love by decision, not by default.
One way you can choose to live intentionally is by donating your time to The Dream Center.  To volunteer, click here.
ShawnMassey

Shawn

Shawn’s is a story of forgiveness and hope. After serving 12 years in prison following a wrongful conviction, Shawn was exonerated, thanks to the help of a team from the Duke University School of Law committed to helping those misidentified and wrongfully prosecuted, in 2010. But his situation leaves him feeling as though he is still in prison here in Charlotte.READ MORE

10419038_483220671829899_2809751288018576433_n

Kevin

Kevin has been homeless since the age of 13 – more than 30 years ago. Since then, he’s been nicknamed “Slim” on the street and created a home for himself at the bus stop by Discovery Place where he stays 5 nights a week.

About homelessness, Kevin says, “You ask yourself, ‘What am I doing? Did you put me out for a purpose? Did you make me homeless?’ Not doing anything gets to you. It’s like your life doesn’t mean anything. You sit there morning and night, go get something to eat, sit, wait for people to give you money and then keep going.”

Kevin found out about The King’s Kitchen & Bakery and the Dream Center through a volunteer at a local church. Since then he’s attended Bible study as well as Restoring Place Church. “They actually care about you like you’re part of the family. They pray for you, sit down and talk with you, and give people opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise,” Kevin says.