Jerry and Tyson Chickens
"Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalm 37:4).
Max Lucado says we seldom pray. We have the greatest privilege imaginable--access to the very control center of the universe--yet we rarely use it. When we work, we work. When we pray, God works. Scripture attaches breathtaking power to prayer. God is not moved by men of standing, but by men of kneeling. You will be surprised how refreshed it will make you feel to have a brief daily "conversation" with God. Then, you will be overwhelmed by the happenings that follow with His guidance, caring, and answering the desires of your heart…like the day of miracles my brother Jerry, pastor of Farrington Baptist Church, shared with me on Dec. 6, 2005.
Jerry's church is located in one of the poorest sections of our city, which qualifies it to distribute food from the Houston Food Bank to the neighboring poor families. Tyson Foods announced they were sending an 18-wheeler loaded with 39,000 pounds of frozen chickens for the food pantries. Jerry applied for l,000 pounds -- not knowing just how much that was! The Tyson truck would arrive at the Reliant Center and chickens could be picked up between l0:00 and ll:30 a.m. on December 6.
There was a slight delay finding available church members with pickup trucks who could help on this Tuesday morning. FINALLY, after several phone calls, Jerry had two trucks--one driven by Joyce Crowson, the church secretary; the other by Sunday School teacher, Arthur Paul. They rushed to the Reliant Center arriving slightly after 10:00 a.m. to be amazed at the sight of a two-block-long string of pickups, vans, and trucks. No other vehicle arrived to get in line behind them. Jerry remarked to Paul, "The disadvantage of being last in line is that they may run out before they get to us, or we may not get the whole l,000 pounds!"
Jerry noticed the boxes contained 20-pounds each. He thought, "One pickup will surely hold 50 boxes. I should let Joyce go back to the church!" His thoughts-- not God's!
One hour and fifteen minutes later, when they finally reached the 18-wheeler, the Tyson representative said, "It appears we have about 2,000 pounds left. Can you use them?"
"WOW! Yes, Sir. We sure can!"
They began piling boxes of chickens in the beds of both pickups as high as they dared-- then stacked more inside the cabs! While traveling back to the church, Jerry began to wonder where they would store all those chickens. Some members share their home freezers with pantry goods; but they are full of last week's deli meat! Perhaps they could store some in their refrigerator freezer compartments. He panicked at the discovery that only one package would fit into a church refrigerator freezer!
Several helpers began unloading the chickens out of the sun onto the grassy shady side of the church building. The ladies began maneuvering everything in the freezers and refrigerators until they miraculously unloaded ONE pickup. Jerry scurried to his office thinking of Peter who walked on water, and then began to sink, praying "Lord, help me!" Similarly, he prayed, "God, I need your help and I need it right now!!!"
His mind began racing for a solution while he picked up the telephone book. Grocery store? Air conditioning company? Ice-making machine? Refrigeration? Desperately, he prayed again asking the Lord for advice, counsel, direction. Refrigeration? Yes, refrigerated container! Ah! Here is a list. Which one? I'll just dial THIS one: Refrigerated Container Services, 1804 N. HWY 146. The church is on Highway 59 East, about 15 miles away.
I counted 43 container companies! Jerry chose No. 24 printed in tiny letters two inches from the bottom of the fifth column adjacent to the center of the telephone book. He briefly explained his predicament to the receptionist, who asked, "Is this some kind of a joke?"
"NO! I REALLY do have l,000 pounds of frozen chickens. It's 54 degrees outside, and they have already been off ice two hours."
"Isn't this Uncle Jerry?" asked the receptionist.
"Well, er, ah, yes! Who is this?"
"I'm your niece, Nancy -- your brother Sonny's daughter!"
"What are YOU doing there?"
"I work here! I recognized your voice. I thought you were pulling some kind of a joke on me. I kept waiting for the punch line"
"I had no idea where you worked." After all the laughter settled down, Jerry asked, "Can you help me?"
Nancy said, "My boss goes to lunch every day from 12:00-1:00. I'll see if he left. I'm putting you on hold." Jerry made a quick glance at his watch: 12:15! He thought, "There's no way I can wait until 1:00! Chickens are a-thawing!" Nancy returned, saying, "He's still here. I told him about your problem. I'll transfer you. His name is Mike Doss."
Mr. Doss understood the situation and calmly said, "You can either bring the chickens over here and we'll put them into a container for you…or, we can bring a container over to your church and drop it off." Jerry began seeing dollar signs for delivery and picking up the unit. He said, "We'll bring the chickens there. We'll need you to keep them two or three weeks. How much will that cost?"
Mr. Doss said, "We've been helping the Hurricane Katrina victims at no charge. We can do the same for you! I'm late for my lunch appointment. I'll turn you over to my assistant, Alvin Dewall. He'll help you."
Jerry and Arthur loaded all the rest of the chickens in one pickup and took them to the container company. Jerry laughed all the way, and for several days after that praising God for His ways and for the godly man, Mike Doss. He'd wake up laughing in the middle of the night; thinking of Nancy's "Is this some kind of a joke?" God guided Jerry to select the right company to call. Everything fit together so smoothly in this, God's Divine plan. "He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
They gave away chickens during the next four weeks. On December 12, the Houston Food Bank gave them a pickup load of produce. They fed 417 persons from 117 families that month. The Lord provided food for the poor, whom He loves. He seeks them out and wants them to know that He cares.
Two days later (December 8), Jerry was at the South Texas Baptist Associational meeting; afterwards, enjoying a barbeque lunch. When it was over, Bro. Lynn Snyder said, "Jerry, can you use these leftovers?" "YES!" As Jerry drove back to the church, knowing there was no freezer or refrigerator space for all this food, he asked the Lord, "What do you want me to do now?" Immediately he recalled the words of Mr. James Vest, the head of their Food Pantry: "I'd sure like to treat all our workers to a meal some day. They work hard boxing up food every Tuesday for those in need. They deserve a treat of appreciation." Jerry agreed, and asked what kind of a meal should they serve. James said "Barbeque! But let's wait until the end of December. Things are too busy right now."
Upon arrival at the church, Jerry told Joyce that the Lord wanted them to have an appreciation dinner for the food pantry helpers tonight! He continued, "The Lord has already provided the meal! Call and invite them to come on over." They feasted for two days. It was one of Mr. Vest's last meals. The Lord took him home on December 20 at age 81. He was absolutely "Mr. Faithful" in serving the Lord.
We serve an awesome God! Albert Einstein (1879-1955) said, "There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." The Bible tells us to pray unceasingly. That's practicing God's presence; developing a constant awareness of Him all the time. We can pick up a conversation with Him at any moment in a day as we would with someone sitting a few feet from us. Sometimes saying a lot; some-times saying a little; but living every moment of life as if He is right there. After all, isn't He?
> Jerry and Tyson chickens