Changing the World, One Meal at a Time
Bess & Tim Lewis’s lives were changed forever when they read TCW’s cover story featuring Kim de Blecourt’s work with Food for Orphans.
TCW’s November/December cover story featuring adoptive mother and author Kim de Blecourt (read Kim’s article, “A Home for All Children,” here) recently inspired a couple in southern Illinois to take a leap of faith. After reading the magazine that arrived in their mailbox in November, they decided to leave their jobs in agriculture and teaching to pursue full-time ministry with outreach organization Food for Orphans. They hosted their first food-packing event in Carbondale last weekend, and Kim de Blecourt was able to attend the event and meet them.
"It was such a blessing to have Today's Christian Woman magazine feature our family's adoption story in their November/December 2012 issue,” Kim de Blecourt says. “Now, the blessing of that feature has been extended to others, including Bess and Tim Lewis. Thank you, Today's Christian Woman. Your magazine definitely influences others to love God and to live fearless!"
We were intrigued, so we asked Bess to share some of their story about how God led them to minister differently.
Quitting a job because of something you read in a magazine is pretty big! Tell us what happened.
BESS: Last year my husband felt the Lord say, I want your all, and started feeling called into ministry. Both of us have always had a heart for ministry, but Tim worked in agriculture! As we began to pursue different avenues for ministry, I told Tim, “I believe the Lord will show you where to go, then you’ll quit your job in agriculture.”
So when a job as principal opened at the Christian school where I was teaching, I encouraged Tim to apply. But they told us that because Tim had no administrative experience, he wouldn’t be a good fit for the job.
That day I was so depressed. I told God, I don’t know how there could be anything else out there. As I was feeding our chickens, Tim came up to me and said, “Don’t be so depressed. There’s something even better out there.” And I said, “What could be better than working at a Christian school? There’s nothing!”
Later when I checked the mailbox, I saw the new issue of Today’s Christian Woman. On the cover was this picture of a woman holding this beautiful African baby. We have two foster children, so we’ve always had a heart for adoption. I thought, What could be better to encourage my depressed soul than an article about adoption? There’s nothing more beautiful than this. I assumed the article was a God thing to encourage my soul.
How did Kim de Blecourt’s story help you understand God’s call for your life?
I read the article on my knees because I was that discouraged. As I went through it, I was admiring the pictures of Kim delivering food to orphans, and that really inspired me. When I got to the end where it had all the sources I could look up, I went to Food for Orphans’ website, and they were looking for a regional representative.
This is what the page said: “Have you always wanted to do international ministry, yet have to stay local?” For us as foster parents, we can’t leave the state we’re fostering in—we have to stay in Illinois. So I sent this to my husband, who agreed that this may be the right fit for us..
We reached out to Gary, the Food for Orphans president, then two weeks later were headed out to Colorado to meet him. We knew was where God was leading us. Two weeks after that, we scheduled our first food packing event.
How was the food-packing event?
We started out with just two churches. They each agreed if we could find a host site, they would send 40 people per church to help out. So we knew we had 80 participants for sure, and built from there. We held the event in Carbondale, Illinois, which is a spiritually dry area. It’s also a big university town, so we wanted to get local students involved because we wanted their energy.
Tim was able to get $5,400 from local businesses to sponsor students to get involved at the event, so we had 100 spots for students to come for free. We ended up with a lot more than 100, because students got community service hours credit for coming. We had about 150 students show up. They did all the labor, packing the boxes, and even more people came from churches in the community.
The event was amazingly diverse. We had diversity of ages and professions. We had five-year-old kids all the way to 80-year old people sitting in chairs. We had diversity of color, nationality, and religion. All gathered for the purpose of feeding orphans.
What’s next for you two?
My husband’s work with Food for Orphans has been on a volunteer basis so far, but I think we’ve decided to stay volunteers. We like the idea of pouring our hearts into it and having 100 percent of the money go toward the orphans. Tim’s idea is to somehow get a semi trailer donated so we can host mobile food packing events on wheels. His hope is to have an event every Saturday at churches around southern Illinois. We already have several more events scheduled this year.
To make our finances work, we have our home for sale, and Tim works part-time for a farmer. All our needs have been taken care of. It’s not as though we have extra cash to go to Disney World. We decided we needed to make sacrifices, and we made them. It’s been fun. I keep asking my husband, “Are you sure you like this?” and he keeps saying, “I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.”
Allison J. Althoff is Today's Christian Woman's associate online editor. Follow her on Twitter @ajalthoff.