Feeding His Sheep

Among the many hunger relief organizations Harvest Time networks with are LeSEA Global Feed the Hungry, Food for the Poor and Storehouse Ministry. Through their relationship with Storehouse Ministry, located in the small town of Christmas, Florida, the first duty-free, national food bank was established last year in Honduras. The networking extended throughout Honduras, with some 600 churches--among the poorest in that country--coming together in the cooperative effort.

Domestically, Harvest Time's Community Assistance Program (CAP) helps about 2,000 central Florida families each week. Free food is distributed through 500 area ministries that feed the poor and hungry. In addition, Harvest Time operates a small store where shoppers--all of whom must be referred by churches or ministries and must show HTI identification cards--may buy groceries at a substantial discount.

That kind of networking is key to operating a food distribution program that will have maximum effect, John Murphy says, enabling a small ministry to operate as if it's a large one.

"The slogan I like to use is this: If those who gather much increase would share with those who gather little, there would be no lack."

As big as the current operation is, the Murphys' vision by no means ends with what their physical eyes see now. With eyes of faith they see the International Mission Center--a 100-acre campus featuring a 100,000-square-foot warehouse, a training center and dormitories for students who will be trained in relief ministry, a publishing house and recording studio, and much more. They also see additional trucks that will complement the 53-foot semi and 23-foot box truck HTI now owns.

Already, plans are in the works for the establishment of an air cargo company that will be used for free missions flights, a joint venture of relief organizations in the United States, Australia, England and Canada. The initial fleet of 32 planes will fly cargo for profit in order to fund the free flights, John Murphy says.

"We are compelled to do what we do," Mary Murphy told Ministry Today. "The energy we need to do all this comes from God. The work has to be done, and He enables us to do it."

Late last year, a report issued by the AD2000 & Beyond Movement criticized Christian relief ministries--including medical missions and disaster relief organizations--for failing to give the gospel along with physical assistance. But John Murphy sees relief work as a means toward successful evangelism.

"As we go out and love people--not just by telling them, but also by demonstrating the love and care of the Father--it destroys their defenses against the church," Murphy believes.

Murphy and others at HTI take the evangelistic nature of their work seriously, praying over every pallet of food that leaves the warehouse. With each shipment, they believe they are releasing the power of the Holy Spirit to "convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment." And while Murphy agrees that the church can do plenty of good works and never touch people for eternity, that's not how he views the operation of HTI, which has seen its share of hardened hearts turn soft.

"A kind deed done in the name of Jesus causes that hard crust to be broken and cast down," he says. "What we're doing in this ministry is breaking up the fallow ground so the seed of God can be planted in the hearts of the people we serve."


So what can your church or organization learn from Harvest Time International? Here are the principles John Murphy suggests you follow as you establish a hunger relief program for your organization, assuming the group already has 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit.

Step 1. Become affiliated with a church to which you may direct the poor and hungry people you serve. "Networking with churches is one of the first things you should do, so you can direct people who are in need into pastoral care," he says.

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Order Life in the Spirit to actively grow your ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your congregation will stay saturated in God's Word, learn to hear His voice, understand their purpose and calling and move into an active role in your ministry.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.

    Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

    There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, ...

  • Graveyard

    An Autopsy of a Deceased Pastor

    There are eight common patterns to look for.

  • Why did you choose the church you attend?

    7 Key Reasons People Choose a Church

    The real issue is not the intrigue of this research; it is what you and your church will do about ...

  • Many of these issues are self-inflicted.

    10 Poisons That Will Kill Any Church

    Here is why the churches that die from them do so by their own hand.

  • The Key to True Power

    The Key to True Power

    Jesus overturned every worldly idea about power when He introduced the concept of servant leadership.

  • Have you ever had a cringe moment during your church announcements?

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

    Sometimes they just miss the mark, albeit unintentionally.

  • Some of these reasons for leaving the church are simply not plausible.

    7 Reasons People Leave Their Church During Crisis Times

    Some of the excuses are pretty extreme and, quite frankly, lazy.

  • Do yourself and her a favor. Take the target off your pastor's wife's back.

    Why Pastors' Wives Have a Target on Their Back

    Here are three instances of what we are doing to the wives of God's servants sent to ...

  • The heart of a leader is more important than any other characteristic.

    5 Qualities to Seek in the Heart of a Leader

    The hope here is that you would reflect on your own leadership and consider your own heart as a ...

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders