Giving is a wonderful thing when it is pure.
Last week we found ourselves in Missouri for a meeting to talk about some of the issues facing Angel Food Ministries to help our host sites and church partners better understand and navigate through the media storm. AFM teams have been traveling to host sites throughout the country for years, training volunteers, teaching outreach, and helping churches build through our food resource. However, these past few weeks have been different.
Pastor Joe has been to York, PA, Stone Mountain, GA, Kalamazoo, MI, Cincinnati, OH, St. Louis, MO, and a few other places over the past several weeks. the purpose has been mixed; somewhat to talk about how AFM builds communities and to show the volunteer base how it is appreciated and essential, but also to answer questions of concerned pastors and the dedicated souls confused about the flurry of news that has captured the fancy of a few reporters seeking some national glory.
In St. Louis, we chanced upon a very supportive audience at Church on the Rock. Still, we encountered some question concerning compensation, as we had expected. One person expressed disappointment for the volunteers. He said that people who devoted their time and energy to serving the needs of those who relied on Angel Food’s $30 boxes may become disillusioned by the seemingly high salaries paid in 2006.
In my reply to him I questioned whether he actually committed his time and toil in the expectation of getting compensated, or whether he did it for the love of serving a greater good. You see, most nonprofit organizations rely on donations, and we seek the ones with highest percentage of donation to administration costs when we choose to donate. The best ones of the bunch can send $0.90 of every dollar to the program service intended. Yet, those are few are far between. The good ones can be anywhere from 70-80%.
The beauty of Angel Food Ministries model is that we rely of a network of 45,000 volunteers, which we consider our donation base. Do you know that 100% of those donations, your volunteer work, are put to the intended use? No other organization can claim that.
Angel Food Ministries brings food to anyone who asks at a price most can afford. For $30, you can feed your family for a week, and it is true. It takes keen procurement, efficient shipping, smooth logistics, and a full operation of sales, marketing, IT, and just about every other kind of office staff you can imagine. It also takes a strong CEO to run the operation, and that CEO is Joe Wingo. He runs the most efficient and perhaps the largest food coop in the country, and more than 6 million boxes of food were distributed in 2008.
Exodus 25:2 teaches us about giving, and it is the essence of AFM. “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they take for Me an offering,” God says. He could have said simply Give to me an offering; after all, the Israelites were being asked to give. Yet, God chose the Hebrew word ‘V’Yikchu’, which means “Take for me”. By this we learn that the act of giving is not merely giving up of our possessions or time, but in doing so, we are actually taking something for ourselves. Giving, Tithing, Tzedaka, Charity, or any way one refers to it, is taking for ourselves a portion of our merit. When we give, we give ourselves a blessing, we give ourselves credit in the afterlife and we give wholeheartedly – so we are taking a benefit that no dollar or amount of time can humanly calculate.
Those who benefit from the food relief of Angel Food, could not get that benefit without the help of the volunteers who give to us every day, while taking for themselves the merit of God’s will and kindness in this life and beyond.