Feeding The Hungry: Redemption City Church, Cul2vate,

By Jedidiah Coppenger

Around 1 out of 6 Tennesseans are hungry. 1 out of 6! That means over 1 million of our fellow Tennesseans have stomachs that are growling each week and can’t make it stop the way many of us can. And hunger, of course, doesn’t just impact your stomach, it impacts your ability to focus, listen, relate, your inner sense of well-being, and more. These problems are particularly felt developmentally by the 1 out of 4 children that make up Tennessee’s hungry population. If we reduce hunger, we reduce so many other problems that plague our neighbors.

That’s why, starting this year, Redemption City Church will be using a portion of our 30.9 acres to grow thousands of pounds of food that we’re going to give away in the name of Jesus. No, we’re not growing food because we want to be farmers. We’re farming because we want to be like Jesus who both SHARED God’s love verbally and SHOWED God’s love practically.

We know this is true because Matthew summarized Jesus’ ministry by saying, “23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matt. 4:23).

Jesus drove this point home when he said that at the end of time we will answer for how we treated the most vulnerable around us. He said, “35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me’ (Matt. 25:35-40).

Later, Jesus’ brother, James, emphasized that saving faith is a working faith or it’s a dead faith. He wrote, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).

There are, of course, many other passages in the Bible that tell us that Christians who have a saving belief in the gospel should make a practical difference in the lives of those around them. Christianity is compassionate or it’s counterfeit.

From the very beginning of Redemption City Church in 2013, we have sought to be a people that SHARE God’s love verbally and SHOW God’s love practically. We’ve seen God do amazing things as we’ve built houses for people in need, fed the hungry, provided clothing and education to those who desperately needed it, and supported missionaries who do the same.

But we feel like God is calling us to something more, something unusual.

That sense of leading started in 2018, when God gave Redemption City Church over 23 acres of Williamson County farmland through the generosity of Frank and Francis Ingraham. Immediately, we started asking God to make clear how we could best use this gift—farmland that I grew up working on—to advance his kingdom purposes. About 8 months later God led us into conversations with a local non-profit doing amazing work called Cul2vate.

Over the past 5 years, Cul2vate has been growing food to feed the hungry and using the chronically employed to do it, helping equip them to get back to the life God created them for. Cul2vate was founded by and is led by a childhood friend of mine, Joey Lankford, who also worked on the Ingraham farm with me.

Just when we were praying for a partner that could help provide the needed expertise to grow food on this kind of scale and help people along the way, Cul2vate was looking for an opportunity to multiply what they’re doing somewhere else. The timing was perfect!

After agreeing to work together, this past December we launched our “Hope for the Hungry” initiative, asking you to give $15,000 to get it started. This money would cover costs like putting in a small gravel parking pad, purchasing needed tools, seeds, and more. And you responded by giving over $27,000!!! Yes!

Then, this past Sunday, I spent half of my normal preaching time to interviewing Joey at Redemption City Church. I thought it was so important for everyone to hear his powerful story of walking away from everything the world could offer to give his life away through this ministry. You can listen to it here.

This past Sunday we also began asking for 250 people to commit to work 1 hour a month for 7 months, starting mid-March, to provide hope for the hungry. You don’t, of course, have to be a farmer, just willing to provide hope for the hungry in practical ways. You’ll plant seeds, pull weeds, harvest food, and deliver food, just to name a few of the key jobs. Families, groups, and anyone else, can do this together. It’s going to be something you’ll never forget.

Will you pray that God would use our efforts to provide physical and spiritual hope to the hungry this year? We believe that we need God’s help to advance God’s purposes, so we pray.

Will you be one of the 250 people who sign up to help 1 hour a month for 7 months? If so, let us know here. Signing up in this way will enable us to get the needed information to you as easy as possible.

God is going to do amazing things through this new ministry effort. I’d love for you to be a part of it. Check out the Cul2vate’s video below to learn more about this awesome ministry (btw, Dr. Coffey, who you will meet in this video, will be volunteering full-time at RCC’s property!).

https://youtu.be/8KD6VKSe0yE

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