One of our regular volunteers shared with me last Saturday night how God’s numbers often just don’t add up. I laughed when she said that because I am Forever Fed’s actual “keeper of the numbers” and I know what she says is true. I’m continually marveled, amazed, and often completely flummoxed by God’s economy.
At year’s end most organizations typically look back at the last twelve months and compare the number of services they’ve provided to the number of dollars it took them to do so. Successful businesses cut programs that are more costly and less efficient and programs that operate with a greater return are grown to net an increase in financial return.
Three and a half years into directing Forever Fed I’m coming to truly appreciate the vast difference between our worldly economy and God’s economy. The largest challenge in directing and planning for a faith based non-profit is that most of the tried and true business applications simply don’t apply. I’ve decided this is because God’s economy looks nothing like the worlds.
Some of Forever Fed’s most expensive events are the block parties. We are seeing a high yield in spiritual growth in the lives of a few individuals we serve face to face at these events which has only been achieved through years of showing up faithfully and gaining their trust. This has allowed us to not only share our faith but also teach and mentor these folks as well. This requires an investment of both time and money. Forever Fed’s leadership has often prayed and discussed the option to cut back on the more expensive events and increase the least expensive programs in hopes of reaching more people with food. The answer our leadership has received is a resounding “No”. What we do is about faith, not food. The food is simply the avenue to share our faith. So we continue down the road, doing our best, and seeking His direction, knowing He will continue to provide for the events He’s blessed and praying He’ll continue bless the events we’ve chosen to do.
Truth: In the year 2013, we did everything we did, doing our best with what we had, and our total operational spend was a little less than $38,000. This still blows my mind. I have no idea how we accomplished such a feat. We served 18,000+ prepared meals, distributed 48,732 pounds of groceries and we launched new programs and expanded our services to the organizations and neighborhoods we support for less than….$38,000. No kidding. We really did-or I should say “God did”. Hopefully now you’ll see why I’m so flummoxed by God’s economy-the numbers just don’t add up. You can see our annual report for 2013 on our website www.foreverfed.org/aboutus
Our 2014 Leadership Challenge: How exactly do we accomplish forming a budget for 2014 in the world in which we operate on a Godly based economy? Who in the world can plan serving that many meals and distributing that much food with so few dollars? Evidently God can. Forever Fed’s Board of Directors has several very business savvy individuals with much experience who are advising, making suggestions, and constantly raising our bar of performance standards. At our Board meeting in December we discussed 2014’s budget from both a business angle and a faith based perspective and I think every one of us left that meeting just shaking our heads at what God has done through Forever Fed in 2013. On the flip side, we were all a bit flummoxed at how we are supposed to budget for 2014. So here’s what we decided. We’d pray.
Our Decision: We THINK we know it will take us $43,000 to do what we did last year-minus the great grocery give away event. The increase realized in this year’s budget is because we increased our fleet of vehicles to include a pick-up truck which involves an increased insurance and fuel expense. A local congregation has already donated sufficient monies to fund our entire 2014 transportation expense. Wow, what a huge blessing for a mobile ministry! God is good! We are also actively working on a new agreement with another body of faith about providing us with a home kitchen free of charge. This is yet another HUGE blessing to a ministry that will prepare over 20,000 meals in 2014! Wahoo!
Yet, in our earthly based budget of dollars in and dollars out-it appears we still have a $5000 short fall for 2014. Are we worried? Not really. We’re praying. It’s all good.
Are we called to do more? Actually, yes, we are. So, while we’re praying for God to provide the additional $5000 to cover our budgeted dollars, listed below are also additional projects we believe God will bless as they expand programs we are already doing. If you can help financially, we’d love to receive your gift. You can donate online at Foreverfed.org/donations. Our mailing address is there as well if you’d rather send a check.
Can you help with prayers? Please do! When the Body of Christ prays together awesome blessings always happen, if not financial blessings, then blessings of increased discernment. God is so good. Forever Fed has always had enough to do the job God has given us to do! Always.
Finally, I’m proud to say I’ve morphed my “Director’s Attitude” in the last 30 days from one of high anxiety and worry to one of peace in knowing God’s got this, hands down. My attitude change alone is a miracle in itself. I’ve been given a fountain of joy and I’m still laughing at the ridiculousness of God’s economy. I know the numbers just don’t add up. My smile and laughter are fueled by the joy experienced while watching God’s hand at work and knowing we’ll see many more miracles this year. If you are lacking in joy, I have plenty to share. You, as a community, were part of our 2013 miracle as well. If you want to hear about the miracles we’ve seen in the last year-let’s have coffee. I’m happy to share but be careful of what you ask me and only feed me decaf coffee…because I’m just bubbling over with good news and I’ll likely talk your ears off!
2014 Funds Needed in Order of Priority
1. We need $5000 additional dollars to continue providing the services we have calendared in 2014. As we get larger the general expense of running Forever Fed increases as well. Our total spend in 2013 was $37,863. We anticipate the cost of maintaining our services ‘as is’ to be $43,000.
2. We need $3000 to provide up to 22 additional children in high need with backpack groceries twice each month. These children attend the Paths to Shine mentoring program at Scott Mill Chapel which we already support with heavy snacks. These children live in food unstable homes.
3. We need $5,200 to provide Goshen Valley Boys Ranch with a weekly meal. Goshen Valley is a large foster home/ranch in Waleska. We’d like to ease their burden of preparing meals once a week so the house parents can have a night off from meal prep to spend more quality time with the children they mentor.
4. We need $4,800 to distribute bags containing 1# of dried beans and 2# of rice to our guests attending our Block Party Events. When eaten together, beans and rice are a complete dietary protein filled with healthy nutrients. Providing this one regular gift to our guests at our Forever Fed Block Parties would be a tremendous blessing.
5. We need $5,000 for a 2014 Great Grocery Give Away. In 2013 the ACFB donated a semi-truck filled with USDA foods for Forever Fed to distribute in a single day. The leadership for this event wants to do it again however this year we’ll need to purchase the USDA foods at $0.16/lb. We estimate the total cost of this event to be $5,000. For a cost of $10/family we can provide 60pounds of USDA groceries per family which is a huge blessing. At the 2013 give away over 50% of the recipients were senior citizens. And over 80% of those families receiving groceries requested prayers from our prayer team that very day.