Building Bridges

Over the past 7 weeks, our church has been on a mission of building bridges with boxes. In partnership with schools, other churches, and non-profits, we have distributed around 4000 boxes to families in our community. The boxes contain dairy, fruit, produce and meat that are food for the week for those that are experiencing financial hardships and are in need due to COVID-19 or other circumstances.

If you drive by Good Shepherd on a Thursday afternoon, you might be surprised to come upon a party that happens there every week. You will find the newest Outreach Team members, Allison and DJ VanZanten, cheerily gathering supplies and setting up a station with children in tow. Soon several other families would join. Peter and Jen Hibbs, Alison and Brandon Gentry, Bryant and Jeannette Strot, Kirt and Anne Haneberg, Greg and Tarah Cahalan, some from the young adult’s group and many more.

As the cars pull up, the kids chomp at the bit to be the first ones to hand out the boxes. Three boxes to one car. Fifteen to another. The cars roll through and pick up what they need to distribute to the people they have been divinely designated for. These boxes however, carry more than just food, they carry hope and love.

One woman delivering food boxes shared, “I am so delighted to be able to share the food boxes each week.  My heart is blessed beyond measure!  My two single lady neighbors are so thankful for their boxes.  One neighbor has her widowed brother and his two teenage boys living with her since March so the food is a huge help to her for some of their food needs.  The lady across the street shares her box with a couple of her friends that are in need, so the blessing gets passed on to many more people along the way.  The Hispanic families we serve are so grateful, as they have quite a few people in living in the house, so they have many mouths to feed.  One family has nine family members to feed daily.  I just found out tonight an elderly lady at The Village is in need of some food so one of my boxes will go to her tomorrow!  Thank you so much for your part in this ministry.”

When asked about the purpose of food boxes, Allison responds, “The heart behind food boxes is to share the tangible love and care of Jesus to our community through a simple gesture of blessing them with food from neighbors who love Jesus and wish to share His love with them…especially those that may be hurting physically, financially or in need of some extra support right now. We pray this is a bridge to conversations that lead to Jesus or opportunities to pray with the hurting and lost in our community.”

This is crucial because if we just clothe or feed someone we haven’t brought them what they need most. They need salvation from their sin! They need reconciliation! Jesus came and died to remove the guilt of humanity so that we could have a new relationship with God. Jesus rose again so that we could live forever with Him. The gospel is the power of salvation for everyone who believes in Him. This is the purpose of all of our good works; that the world would see them, and praise our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16). 

Food boxes are one way that people will praise our Father in heaven.

If distributing food boxes doesn’t sound like your jam, the Outreach Team has plenty of other options for the people of Good Shepherd. They include working with: 

  • Schools
  • Sports (coaches, students, sports families)
  • The abortion-vulnerable
  • The homeless
  • The alcohol/drug-addicted
  • Low-income communities
  • Immigrant and refugee families
  • The elderly
  • First responders

Becoming a Bridge Builder

  1. Consider – What are your passions? What do you love to do? Sometimes, serving is a matter of doing something you love (with people you love) with a gospel purpose. You could find yourself gardening, painting, helping with music, or writing letters. Or maybe you would prefer mentoring, hiking, or some form of teaching. There are opportunities for being an event facilitator, childcare volunteer, or even doing street evangelism! The options are endless.
  2. Community – Would your community group like to serve and engage together? Be the trend-setter in your group to get things going, it only takes one person to start a movement.
  3. Connect – The Outreach Team would love to talk with you about how you might want to serve your community.

Contact Allison VanZanten ( for opportunities to serve by calling Good Shepherd at (503) 663-5050.