Raised in poverty by a single mom and having grown up around addictions, Joshua Shortridge has first-hand experience living Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Through God’s grace and some helpful nonprofits, he was able to get stability.

“Once I became a Christian, I realized He needed my life, not just my heart.”

Joshua recognizes the need to overcome the survival mentality that deals with the immediate needs. But, he says, the deeper question then becomes “Why do suicide and drug use exist?” According to Joshua, lack of fellowship and community is a primary cause. That’s where the Church needs to step in.

“Nonprofits can help with the fruit, but the root is the issue.”

Practicing what he preaches, he’s now a pastor and Director of Outreach at Stowe Mission of Central Ohio. What began as a home church is now a diverse group of 50 members who meet at Stowe.

Though small in numbers, they are big in impact. Their food pantry serves 250 meals Monday-Friday. On top of that, they offer tutoring, shower and hygiene kits, as well as dental and vision clinics. They clocked in 30,000 volunteer hours last year alone.

Once the coronavirus hit, however, they had to shut down everything except their food and hygiene ministries.

To maintain their ministry of “giving gospel hope and restoration to people facing hardship,” they adapted in several ways.

“In a culture of broken trust and failed promises, consistency is king.”

Of the 7 staff members, 3 are telecommuting, and the other 4 rotate. 2 work together for 2 weeks, and then they switch. They take their temperature every day, wear gloves, and practice social distancing.

They also moved entirely to to-go food kits and now serve the community from a single door.

The ministry has been incredibly successful. With word-of-mouth organic marketing, Joshua’s phone has not stopped. And neither has the need.

What You Can Do

  • Find a local leader who is serving in your community and ask them what they need help with.
    • Does your church have a food ministry? Do you have a local food pantry or food bank? More than likely they need food donations and volunteers.
  • Get your church community involved!
    • Volunteer at each of your local food banks, or at the same one. Encourage one another to minister to your neighbors.
    • Mealtrain.com has some great information on how to deliver meals safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is also a great way to help coordinate care for a particular community member.
  • You can be a “personal” food pantry and check in with neighbors to see if they need food or help with shopping. Check out this simple “How Can I Help” card to help you get started.
  • Contact Stowe Mission directly by emailing them at [email protected] to find out how you can uniquely help.
    • They always need volunteers to help package food.
    • With a small budget, financial donations are also appreciated.

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