This week, we’re excited to highlight one of our partner churches in Geneva, IL: Chapelstreet Church.
Chapelstreet Church has been a Converge MidAmerica member for many years. In 2000, they opened a small food pantry called Shepherd’s Heart to help address food insecurity in the community. What they didn’t know is how God planned to grow their humble, two-shelf closet into a sprawling community care center.
When they started offering free food to their Geneva neighbors, they gave it with no stipulations: you didn’t have to be a member of the church, or even a believer in Christ, to receive help from the pantry. Their only expectation was that the Lord would give them opportunities to share Jesus with those they served. The first year, Shepherd’s Heart saw on average 70 people per month, praying over them and sending them out with nonperishable items, hygiene products, and an invitation to return each week.
But, they knew there was more to hunger than just a lack of food.
“We didn’t want to be just a band-aid.” Erin Wise, Director of Shepherd’s Heart, explained that it didn’t take long to realize the need was far greater in Geneva than just hunger. They set to work creating teams of volunteers who could walk alongside these citizens, equipping them with skills and resources to get back on their feet.
Among these are a Budgeting Team, Compassion in Action Team, Job Coaching Team, Legal Clinic, and Master’s Hands Ministry. Anyone who sets foot in the door at Shepherd’s Heart has access to these resources.
Today, 21 years later, Wise reports that the pantry serves over 1,400 people per month. “The numbers have really gone up and so has God’s provision,” says Wise.
Shepherd’s Heart now operates out of space about 20 times the size of that little closet, with more volunteers, and more opportunities to share the love of Jesus each week.
If you would like to partner with Shepherd’s Heart, please visit their website where you can find information about their monthly donation program and how to volunteer.