Open letter from Angel Food Ministries Board Member Renee Branson

I appreciate a Pastor who wants personal insight into ministries with whom he is affiliated, such as Angel Food Ministries. I became acquainted with Pastors Joe and Linda Wingo in 1994 when they visited my pastor in Houston, Texas, and I was present in the room where they were meeting.  They had come to ask him for a prayer of blessing over Angel Food Ministries as they were just starting to reach out to more people who needed assistance with food for families in their area.  I remember Pastor Wingo said, “Pastor, I am not here to ask you for money.  I am here to ask for your blessing and to pray over this ministry and the work that God has given us to do to feed hungry people.”

Pastor Wingo shared his heart, telling my pastor of an experience he had in a grocery store, standing behind an elderly woman who was buying dog food, when he felt impressed by the Lord that she was buying the food for herself.  When he asked her a question or two, and found out she was indeed buying the products for herself to eat, it broke his heart, and the Lord gave him his assignment to help feed people.  He wept as he shared his story of beginning to feed a few families off his back porch each month, and how he wanted to give dignity to people that had low incomes or were on fixed incomes, who just didn’t have enough money to stretch to the end of the month for food, after paying their monthly bills, by giving them a hand-up and not just a hand-out.

I have watched Pastor Joe and Linda Wingo over the years give generously to churches and ministries and individuals, not even taking a salary from the ministry for many years.  I have seen them work hard, long hours, shoulder to shoulder with their employees and volunteers month after month, year after year to help feed hungry multitudes.  I really believe God gave Pastor Joseph Wingo insight into years of hardship and famine that were to come, like another Joseph of the Old Testament who provided for God’s people during seven years of drought.  When there was a tremendous flood in Houston in 2001, Angel Food Ministries was one of the first to call our church and ask how they could help.  AFM was one of the first ministries outside of Texas to offer real assistance and hope to individual families here also during recent hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast area.

I plan to continue serving on the board of Angel Food Ministries, because I have lived and worked among people of integrity all my life, and I know this man and his wife and this Board have pure hearts and motives, and are builders and givers; serving, not taking.  I appreciate the fact that Angel Food Ministries has invested literally millions of dollars back into churches, ministries and communities across this nation, and provided much-needed assistance and dignity to hurting individuals, families and communities that might not receive a government hand-out.  If all churches and ministries were as generous as AFM and the Wingos have been, we might not have needed a welfare system at all.

A scripture comes to mind as I write, from II Corinthians 9:89 in The Amplified Bible, that describes Angel Food Ministries and its founders:  “And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].  As it is written, ‘He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever!’”

There are a lot of people in the world that want to discredit successful ministries like Angel Food Ministries, when so much good is being done and so many are receiving not only monthly food subsistence that is well-balanced nutritionally, but also prayer, messages of salvation, health tips, and encouragement from God’s Word.  Angel Food Ministries has brought hope to many communities where there have been massive layoffs and huge natural disasters, which we will continue to do.

Why I think churches should continue to participate in this ministry on the local level is because it is one way that churches can be the hands and feet of Jesus extended to their community.  Just like Jesus fed the multitudes with a few loaves and fish, I have seen God multiply food that we handed out at our local church so that the “left-overs” fed dozens more in nearby apartment complexes after all the ordered food had been handed out!  AFM distribution is a way that families and churches can bond and form lasting relationships as they work shoulder-to-shoulder to help their church and community together in a spirit of unity.  AFM is a way the local church can demonstrate the love of God through food, prayer, love, hugs, and service.  It gives people that need court-ordered community service hours a place and beneficial way to give back into their communities.  AFM reaches across culture, race, religion, custom, and shows no partiality.  AFM inspires local churches to see and meet the practical needs of their own community, and receive blessings back to the local church.

On February 11, 2009 it was brought to the attention of the Board of Directors of Angel Food Ministries that an FBI- and IRS-directed search warrant was issued to obtain copies of electronic files and data from Angel Food Ministries, with no intent to cause disruption in the day-to-day operations of the ministry.  As you know, ministries are under much closer scrutiny than ever before, and we want you to know that Angel Food Ministries is cooperating fully with the investigation of public records of the operations of Angel Food Ministries.

The news media does not represent the facts, nor are they a judge and jury should any area of the ministry need special attention at any time.  Any facts that would be brought to light through the current investigation that would point to any improprieties by any employee or former employee of Angel Food Ministries will be dealt with in the most prudent and expedient manner by the Board of Directors.  We assure you that we will take appropriate action, as necessary, per the direction and advice of the attorneys representing the vital interests of the Angel Food Ministries program, to protect your rights as members of this organization.

Angel Food Ministries is a ministry of integrity, and we as Board Members, serving this ministry in a volunteer capacity with love in our hearts for this ministry, will take the responsibility and action necessary to carry out our duties to rectify any misconduct of any employee, if that employee were to be found guilty of such misconduct in a court of law.

We will not stand for the good name of this ministry to be abused, or that of its affiliates nationwide.  With the current overwhelming economic situation and employee lay-offs in this nation, we need more than ever before to continue to provide hope and compassion to those in need. Please stand with us in prayer as we seek to continue to provide affordable, high-quality food and feed the needy in this nation.

Sincerely,

Renee Branson
Board Member

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