Compassion in a Box
Here at Operation Inasmuch, we talk a lot about compassion. Our vision is for a movement of compassion to sweep across our country and our world. We feel like this can and should start in the church, and we, as a ministry, want to help with this movement of compassion in any way possible.
Compassion is love in action. It motivates us to go out of our way to try and relieve the emotional, mental, or physical pain of others. It is more than just feeling sad or bad for someone. It is taking the next step beyond the emotion to try and help in some way.
Jesus was the ultimate example of compassion. Jesus had compassion for women and children. He had compassion for the outcast of society. He had compassion for the tax collector and disliked people of his time. He is the example of living out our faith by sharing the gospel and showing compassion.
Even before he was to be betrayed and arrested, Jesus was down on his hands and knees, washing people’s nasty, dirty, dusty feet. Jesus did not stop at washing feet. Even though he was God, Philippians 2:6-8 tells us that he “did not consider equality with God as something to be used for his own advantage. Instead, He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death-even death on a cross.”
Let’s be like Jesus and meet real needs in our world today! One huge way to meet real needs and show compassion is through food. The Bible has numerous verses, passages, and stories about feeding the hungry. Today, as we look around our world, the need still remains almost everywhere.
Addressing hunger in our community feels like a daunting and never-ending task. Especially with inflation happening almost everywhere, people continue to struggle with food insecurity. Even with the numerous food banks, soup kitchens, and non-profit organizations that work so hard to help meet these growing needs, the statistics still show that 1 in every 8 people face hunger and 1 in every 6 children face hunger. Food costs are continuing to rise, which means even less food is brought home through the family’s limited amount of grocery dollars. Current stats show that the average meal in Tennessee cost $3.07 and rising fast.
We wanted to help be part of the solution to these hunger needs in some way. We decided last year that we wanted to install blessing boxes in and around our local area here in Knoxville, TN. You may be familiar with a blessing box, but just in case you aren’t, blessing boxes are simply small pantries that hold non-perishable food items and other essentials for people who are in need. They can be accessed 24/7, right in a local area. Whether stocking items or taking items, anyone can utilize these boxes, hopefully removing some of the shame and stigma that accompanies need.
These boxes are usually placed in key areas across the community, such as churches, businesses, parks, neighborhoods, etc., to allow people to drop off items but also take items that they need in a private and non-threatening way.
Studies show adults with food insecurity will skip meals or reduce their portions to provide for children in their homes as they wait for payday. Many food-insecure families do not qualify for the assistance of food banks or are hesitant to turn to food banks for assistance due to the stigma. One “bad month” can be enough to plunge a household into food insecurity. Lay-offs at work, unexpected car maintenance, unforeseen medical bills, or an accident on the job can suddenly force a family to choose between buying food and paying bills. This is the purpose of our blessing box project – to bridge this gap and spread compassion.
We installed three blessing boxes at the end of last year, and we are aiming to install thirteen more this year for a total of sixteen boxes. These are being placed in front of churches, schools, businesses, and even a barbershop. All of these boxes were built and painted with the help of volunteers, and with each new installation, we pray for these blessing boxes to meet real needs, provide hope, and to even lead to relationships and spiritual conversations about Jesus.
There are thousands of ways to spread compassion. It may come in huge ways or small, simple, everyday moments. So, no matter how you want to go about it, let’s have compassion for others and put our faith into action… even if the compassion comes in the shape of a box.