The Church Who Turned a Hungry Family Away

There is a sickness overtaking the modern American church. One of my friends actually has a tattoo of a dilapidated structure. When you look at the tattoo, you can see what’s wrong with the church from the sketch itself. The church is obviously teetering on its foundations—vast foundations, overladen with fancy artwork, expensive sculptures, and stuffed coffers.

I pictured this tattoo this morning when I got up and thought about this story I’d heard last night. There’s this lady in the American south, and I’m gonna leave the name of what state she lives in out of this story just in case she ever reads it, because I don’t wanna embarrass her. She and her family have fallen on hard times. Her husband works at a company that periodically lays off its employees, who are cruelly labeled as “independent contractors,” which really is a lark and a fraud, but this is Twenty-First Century America and most big corporations are living embodiments of the Scrooge . . . so anyway, her husband got laid off temporarily. And because of the way government and business share the same bedroll (after the corporation submits legal bribes from its payroll), the husband can’t collect unemployment . . . and by the time he finds a new job, he’s gonna get rehired again, based on past practices at least.

This family was making less than $1,500 a month, and now the primary wage earner’s been laid off. So the family’s in a pickle. This is a proud family. A good man, a good woman, two young kids too young to understand why their mom’s crying when she looks in the pantry and sees only a sack of old potatoes, maybe some two-week old bread, I dunno, maybe some butter. I haven’t been by their house or anything, but I know what desperation and an empty pantry feels like.

This family doesn’t go to church, not regularly, so for real, they’re like so many Americans. They don’t get much from the modern stand up and sit down, mumble some words and shake hands with the family behind you, but deep down they view church as what it was meant to be: a place of refuge, a source of hope and healing, a safe place where you can go when you can’t go anywhere else to get help.

So the mother walks down to the local church. She doesn’t drive because they can only afford to have one car, and her husband needs it. She also doesn’t want him to know she’s asking the church for help.


She gets there. A woman tells her to fill out some forms, and she’s thinking, forms, why? I just need some food. But she does what she’s told because we’ve all gotten used to doing what we’re told when we walk through the door of the ubiquitous American institution . . . there’s signs for everything and doors for everyone, but there’s no heart in these signs or these doors . . . I am roaming off topic again, sorry.

So she’s filling out these forms and trying so damn hard not to cry, and she’s wishing the lady would just see her pantry and how hungry she is, because she’s not eating. No mother would eat when there’s barely enough to feed her children . . . and none of the questions really are making much sense (why does a church sound like a creditor or an unemployment office? she’s asking herself), but she answers honestly and she tries not to bite her fingernails because coming to the church was a Hail Mary, and now she’s too scared to even think of Mary while she scribbles symbols on a white form.

I’ll skip ahead, you got other things to read and think about today. The intake clerk looks down over her glasses and says, “Your husband makes too much income to qualify for assistance.”

This is a true story. It’s why my friend has a tattoo of a broken church. This church supposedly represents God, but let me tell you, God never would turn away a hungry mother with two hungry children. No church should ever turn away those in need.

And this my friends, in a little more than 750 words, is why we’re building our own church. It’s really simple after all. Those who claim to serve God need to serve others, always. A church that won’t serve is no real church at all, and I’m not talking about meeting IRS requirements for grabbing tax-free treatment under Section 501(c)(3) of the Tax Code. I’m talking about satisfying a better, more loving master: the Lord who stands at the foundation of any real church. That Lord believes those who serve Him serve all others first.

3 Comments on “The Church Who Turned a Hungry Family Away

  1. “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

    “Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    “Then shall the righteous answer, … Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

    “When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

    “Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    “And the King shall answer, … Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”