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Crosslines and Childhood

Hello everyone. My name is Mark and I'm just your normal, run of the mill lay member at Campbell United Methodist church. And I wanted to share a recent experience I had through Campbell. Thank you for reading.

I had the privilege of being able to serve at the Crosslines food pantry this last Thursday. Why was it a privilege? After suffering a multi-fractured broken leg in late January and just now being able to walk almost normal again, that would be a privilege, right? Or maybe now that I’m retired, having something more useful to do would be it. So, yes, both of those things too, but it’s so much more. I was able to help serve real people that God loves in our local community and give them a hand up, all in God’s name. Colossians 3:17 comes to mind: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Campbell United Methodist church serves at Crosslines every 4th Thursday, and I was blessed to finally be a part of that. I started out being a “shopper”, and why I keep calling myself a “picker”, I have no idea. The shoppers receive orders on paper, then we select the items from the pantry shelves based on our customer’s preferences and family size. Unbeknownst to me (wow, that sounds like King James!) – let’s try again: I didn’t know that the pantry was divided into “pantry” items and “commodity” items. “Pantry” items are supplied by Crosslines through various donations. “Commodity” items come from the Federal Government through means that are as mysterious to me as they are praiseworthy because a lot of staples are available because of the Feds that we wouldn’t otherwise have.

Some Campbell workers loaded most of the commodities into a basket while I and others shopped our orders and placed pantry and other commodity items in another cart as applicable. If the order sheet was highlighted in yellow, they received both pantry and commodity items. Most were this way, but some received only pantry or only commodity items. But why? I learned that people or families can only visit the pantry a limited number of times, therefore some were saving their remaining visits for later.

While waiting for orders, I ran across another retired MSU person, Nancy, taking orders by phone. Maybe I should have changed her name to protect the… hard-working, on-fire, zealous, Christian woman who was living out her faith and giving her heart to God through this work? Nope. No name change here! Through Nancy, I learned that Crosslines is often desperate for volunteers and that they especially are short on people taking orders by phone. So suddenly I’m in training to take phone orders! I only listened and did a few searches on the computer, but I’m going to give it a go.

And this is where my childhood finally comes in. My heart was touched by the people I heard on the phone. We must verify the caller’s information if it’s been a while since they called. But why did they need the food pantry? What would they have done without it? “I’m still looking for work that pays enough to get childcare”, “No, he was laid off…”, “We had to take in our grandchildren”, "I'm disabled, live alone, and I don't know anyone here", and more.

These people don’t need to be judged for the decisions they made in life, how they handled the hardships thrown their way, that they wound up needing a food pantry, or on anything else. God loves them and Campbell and I need to love them too. And that’s exactly what Campbell was doing. That’s why I was there. And this is where I finally get to my childhood.

We were poor growing up, we four lived in a small trailer, and if we didn’t fish and hunt, we didn’t eat. I remember getting my first 22 rifle when it was almost longer that I was tall. I still have it, although I haven’t hunted in decades. We were able to make a better life through hard work, study, help from others, and some miraculous opportunities that, in hindsight, had to be of God. All of my time at Crosslines made me remember what it was like to be in such need. To be hungry on very limited resources. And my heart goes out to every one of these wonderful people.

And now Crosslines needs you. Campbell needs you. I need you. We all need your help, donating food, sorting food, taking orders by phone, shopping for God’s blessed poor, and filling those carts with desperately needed food. Why do I say you’re needed? I asked… And I was told that Crosslines was often hurting for workers. There are so very few fulltime workers to serve these needy among God’s blessed poor. The pantry simply could not function without volunteers.

And you meet the nicest people there! Thank you, everyone who worked at Crosslines last Thursday. And thank you everyone who has or will work there. We need you. God needs you. Isiah 6:8 comes to mind: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!

Thank you,

Mark Harsen

P.S. Here's a wonderful video Kevin made about Pride for a Purpose, Juneteenth, and serving at Crosslines. I hope to blog about the other two events soon, but hey, this is my very first blog ever! There is a learning curve after all! God bless you all and thanks again.


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