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On Faith: Serving others can enrich your life

June 13, 2011|By Tom Thorkelson

I am constantly observing people in my life who are quietly and unobtrusively serving others without fame and notoriety.

Shortly after our marriage, my wife Sheila introduced me to an Evangelical minister who had received a call by the spirit to "feed my flock" – in the most basic way. It happened without fanfare and began with the left-over bagels and pastries from his favorite coffee shop, and has grown into a program where he was distributing tons of food each week to thousands of needy families throughout Southern California.

Sheila set up a time for me to visit with him and we met at the very coffee house where he had begun his work. I knew from what Sheila had told me that he had negative feelings towards the Latter-day Saints, but our visit was warm and cordial. After telling me of how he got started in his program, I felt inspired to ask him how I and the members of my faith could assist him.

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I learned that he traveled all over the world – literally – to preach his Gospel and generate funds needed to perform his service. It was, in fact, a generous Muslim benefactor from, of all places, Dubai, who had provided the money to purchase his first truck, which he proudly showed me in the parking lot. It had just been painted the day before with the logo of his program: The Genesis Project.

He told me of the promises made by different people who had not met them. I was impressed with his dedication and sincerity, and again asked him what we could do to assist him. I indicated that our money was committed, but we were really good at providing manpower when and where needed.

He said that he needed a cargo van desperately and also could use help in a feeding program he ran in Orange on the last Saturday of each month. I said I doubted that we could help him with the van, but I would work on providing volunteers each month where, at a Catholic church in Orange, his food was distributed. I left him with my assurances that we would not let him down.

I was quickly able to organize the volunteers, but felt the burden on my heart relating to the van. That next Sunday, I shared my experience with the men of my congregation, and one of the young men asked me who the minister was.

When I shared his name, he fairly shouted, "I thought so! This man has been very close to our family all the time we were growing up. Let me see what I can do."

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