• We thank Bill Byrd and the folks at MHI for their generous donation of this forklift!

Mission News: January – March 2017

Posted Apr 12, 2017

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 This verse, found in the Book of Jeremiah, is well known to most Christians. You’ll find it on posters, Bible covers, wall-plaques, Tee shirts, and more. But, as is always the case, this verse takes on a deeper meaning when read in context. These words are just a small part of a letter of encouragement and instruction, written by Jeremiah, to “all those carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon”. Through this letter God gives His people instructions on how to live their lives while in captivity because God has a plan for them then and after Babylon. As we look back over the almost 12 years of the Care Mission we can also see how God used our lives before the Care Mission to prepare us for life with the Care Mission. For He knew the plans He had for us. And I believe that God continues to use each day to grow us and prepare us for the next. This past year, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, we made some changes at the Care Mission. But, God had prepared us in advance without us even knowing. In June 2016 we closed our thrift store. As our food pantry grew it became increasingly difficult to operate both the thrift store and the food pantry to the point of becoming physically impossible. But, how could we close our only consistent source of income? Our thrift store sales could be counted on to at least pay rent and keep the lights on. And what about the ministry of the thrift store? Many families depended on us to clothe their children. But the Holy Spirit is saying, “Trust me. Close it down.” Now that some time has passed we understand that the thrift store was a “safety net” that God wanted removed. Our faith would not have allowed us to operate without this safety net before, but over time God had developed our faith to the place that we could. It wasn’t easy, but He had prepared us. Operating without the thrift store for the last 6 months of 2016 we were able to increase greatly the quantity of food being distributed as well as the quality of ministry. The numbers we’re about to share are important, but the greater story is the increased amount of ministry we can now do within the time once devoted to the thrift store. More time to pray with and listen to those we serve, to share the Gospel or offer encouragement, to write and mail prayer notes as we are inspired by the Holy Spirit. All these things were being hindered as we worked to keep the safety net in place. Unfortunately these things are impossible to track on paper and often go unnoticed. But the spiritual aspect of our ministry is the most important. Let us share with you then a few things that can be recorded and tabulated. After reviewing them we believe you will agree that God is good. If you supported the Care Mission in any way during 2016 you allowed God to use you to help...

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Mission News: October – December 2016

Posted Feb 28, 2017

A Christmas memory flooded my mind the other morning as I was warming up our box truck to begin my day at the mission. There was a light frost on the windshield, as I looked for the ice scraper I suddenly recalled a Christmas Eve I hadn’t thought of in decades. For many years my dad, who passed away in 2002, worked as a service manager and truck driver for a mobile home company. By truck driver I mean he was the one who drove the truck that pulled the mobile homes from the sales lot to the owner’s property or rented space. When I was in high school, some forty years ago, I’d work there as well on Saturdays, summers, and school breaks. Working alongside my dad and two uncles enabled me to learn many useful skills. I could do basic plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work before I could legally drive. I developed those skills into a career for more than 25 years. During one of those Decembers of my high school years a young couple came to my dad’s employer to purchase a mobile home. They had lost their home, I can’t recall how, so they and their three small children were homeless. They had pulled together every cent they had as a down payment and on December 23rd they were approved for a loan to purchase a new mobile home. The young father and husband pleaded for his new home to be delivered and set up on Christmas Eve so his family could move in Christmas Day since this would be the only Christmas present they’d receive. County and state regulations weren’t nearly as strict back then compared to today, but still this wasn’t a RV trailer, this was mobile home. To deliver and completely set up their home in one winter’s day was a big ask. Daylight would be an issue. And then to do so on Christmas Eve? As service manager it was my dad’s call. When the company’s set-up crew refused to work, my dad “volunteered” me to help him do the job. This wasn’t unusual, my dad often volunteered me for different task. Now my dad was an excellent truck driver. He was accomplished at pulling mobile homes into places you’d think were impossible and as a service manager he was well organized and deliberate in his decision making. But, it had been years since he’d actually set-up a mobile home. I knew this was going to be a case where he helped me do the set-up, not the other way around. So that Christmas Eve morning we headed out early. Unfortunately we ran into some problems getting the mobile home onto the lot. We leveled and blocked up the home in record time. As we worked the darkness was catching us. At some point a light mixture of rain and sleet began to fall. We hooked up the electrical before things got too messy. Again, in those days an inspection was not always required. In this case the electric meter was already set. We just had to wire in the main disconnect on the outside pole to the inside breaker box. We finished hooking up the water and sewer with flash lights. When we were done we were extremely cold, perhaps...

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Holiday Helping Guide: 2016 Donation Opportunities

Posted Nov 20, 2016

Amazon Smile Did you know that online shopping can benefit the Care Mission? you can take care of holiday shopping and help make a difference for families in Walker County – it just takes a few simple steps: Visit and log in to your Amazon Account Check to make sure that “Here I Am Inc” is selected as your charitable organization Shop just like you would on, and a portion of eligible purchases will be donated to the Care Mission! Shop-Rite “Home Folks Helping Home Folks” Now through Dec. 24th area Shop-Rite Stores are selling $5.00 bags of non-perishable food items to be donated to area food pantries. The Shop-Rite of LaFayette will be donating the bags they sell to the Care Mission Food Pantry. The $5.00 bags can be purchased at check-out. Be sure to let the staff know that you appreciate SHOP-RITE’s support of the Care Mission and our community the next time you there shopping. Blossman “Heat for Hunger” Blossman Gas, located at 1725 N. Main Street in Lafayette, is partnering with The Care Mission in a holiday “Heat for Hunger” program. Partial proceeds of every residential gallon of propane gas sold from December 1 through December 31 from this store location will go to The Care Mission as part of Blossman’s commitment to help solve hunger in the Lafayette and Walker County, Georgia area. Walmart Food Drop-off The LaFayette Wal-Mart is collecting non-perishable food items for the Care Mission Food Pantry. Now through Christmas the Lafayette Wal-Mart will be collecting non-perishable food items for our food pantry. Look for our collection bin located at the market exit. Please thank the staff for their support of the Care Mission food pantry and our community. Food City Food Drop-off & Donations Now through Christmas the Lafayette, Fort Oglethorpe, and Mission Ridge Food City Stores are collecting non-perishable food donations as well as monetary donations for the Care Mission food pantry. Look for the collection bins as you exit to drop off our non-perishable food donations. Your monetary donations will be accepted as you check out. Please share this with your friends and neighbors and make sure to thank the folks at Food City for their support of the Care Mission and our...

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Mission News: July – September 2016

Posted Sep 27, 2016

We wanted to do something different for this edition of our Mission News – please enjoy our first video update! This is something we are planning to do each quarter in conjunction with this regular newsletter. We greatly appreciate our very talented daughter, Kelsey, and her assistant/boyfriend for donating their time to shoot and produce them for us. As for this newsletter, I apologize for procrastinating so greatly in getting it done. I could use that time honored excuse that we’ve just been too busy. And that is true. We are on track to increase the amount of food we are distributing by 30% over last year since we closed the thrift store. This is in large part because we now have more time to focus on the food pantry and thus are doing a better job in meeting the needs of those were are serving. However, the more accurate reason for my delay is that I’ve had a bad attitude. Spiritually, emotionally, and physically Kendra and I, and the ministry of the Care Mission have been in storm for most of 2016. We have managed to keep moving forward, but the accumulative effect has begun to wear on me. My poor spiritual attitude made it impossible for me to offer proper praise to God for all the blessings He has given us while in the midst of the storm. I tried. I must have written a dozen newsletter drafts over the past two months. Each time I’d hit “delete” and walk away more discouraged than when I began. But, early this morning, about 2:00 AM, the Holy Spirit woke me. I was all alone, Kendra is out of town babysitting our newest grandchild. And the Lord began dealing with me. I won’t go into all the details, but He got my attention. Don’t misunderstand me, our God is a loving God, full of mercy, and full of grace. But, He is also a God of authority and He will not be mocked. For me the greatest lesson in the Book of Job is that it’s OK to question God. But, it’s not OK to feel you are owed an explanation. God owes us no explanation period. It is an example of God’s grace when He does explain Himself, but it is never something owed to us. Somehow during the course of the past 10 months or so I had forgotten that fact. So in the early morning hours the Holy Spirit reminded me. I pray He never has to again. So let me Praise the Lord for what He has done even in the midst of the raging storm, for He alone is worthy to be praised. We have a beautiful, healthy, new grandson, Dakota, born July 27th. He is our third grandchild and he is every bit as charming as his Pappaw. His older cousins, our two other grandchildren, Zander (14) and Riley (12) are excellent role models for him. They are a blessing. We have four outstanding adult children, five if you count our son-n-law, and we do. They are a blessing. The amount of food we are distributing continues to increase. The number of households we are assisting is remaining close to that of last year, 600/650 per month, therefore the households we are assisting...

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Mission News: April – June 2016

Posted Jun 24, 2016

Saturday, June 25th, will mark the 11th anniversary of the Care Mission. We will celebrate the occasion with our 11th Annual Day of Praise. Each year we use our anniversary to reflect on what our God has done through the Care Mission. It is our Day of Praise. This year it will be held on June 25th, the actual date of our anniversary. We will open the Care Mission at 10:00 AM for an open house, snacks, fellowship, and shopping. We will conclude at 2:00 PM after a time of prayer, praise and worship. All are invited. Each of our eleven years has had its own set of victories and challenges, delightful highs and heartbreaking lows. The only thing consistent has been God. He has remained faithful. With every anniversary came pause to praise, recharge and refocus. None more so than this year’s mile marker. As we enter our twelfth year we do so knowing it will be the most different than any year that has preceded. Perhaps the year our faith will be the most sternly tested. When we close our doors on this Day of Praise we will also close the door on our thrift store. For eleven years the Care Mission Thrift Store has been a point of fellowship, a valuable clothing source for many, and a provider of financial support for our food pantry. Most years thrift store sales accounted for approx. 20% of our overall financial contributions. It has been a blessing for us and for our community without question. So why close the store now? The short answer is because God said it is time. We have stated all along that we trust and rely on God for 100% of our support. God has used a variety of avenues of revenue over the years to keep our doors open. And we must continue to place our trust in the Lord for every cent we receive. That is not to say that we should become reckless or practice poor stewardship and then call on God for more. Certainly not. Much prayer and fasting came before our decision. It has been carefully measured. God has blessed our food pantry, which is the center most part of our ministry. A ministry that we feel speaks the Gospel of Christ through our actions first and our words only when needed. Our food pantry continues to grow in a way that only God could create. So much so that there is no longer room for both a thrift store and a food pantry to operate within the same building. Should we stop the growth of our food pantry to allow the thrift store to operate? Or should we close the thrift store to provide room for a more robust food pantry while relying on the Lord to replace whatever financial loss should occur? We have chosen the latter. We pray that you who have been faithful to support this ministry will continue to do so as we enter a new chapter in our walk with Christ. May it all be to His glory. Our 2016 Board of Directors has been set. Remaining on the Board are Chairman Hope Spears, Pastor Chris Spears, Denny Cook, Ken Hooper, Deon and Kendra. Coming onto the Board are Thomas Milligan, Makayla Spears, and...

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Mission News: January – March 2016

Posted Feb 27, 2016

We have plenty of reasons to praise and worship our Lord while reviewing all that He did through the Care Mission during 2015. Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide. In 2015 the Care Mission provided food and/or clothing assistance to 7,961 households, that’s 696 more than in 2014. Those households were made up of 24,615 individuals, which is 2,792 more than in 2014. The number of households and the number of individuals served are both record highs. To God be the glory. The Care Mission distributed just over 308 tons of food, enough to prepare approximately 271,000 meals. Again, this all to the glory of God. We could stop here, those facts alone are enough to shout about, but that would not give you all the facts. You would still not know the whole story. So, we’ll continue. “And without faith it is impossible to please God…” Hebrews 11:6 Each year when I put together the statistical information for the previous year I am amazed, none more so than this year. In the midst of the battle you kind of know what the final numbers will project. But, when you sit down and put them all together you cannot deny that the hand of God is on this ministry. In fact He is carrying this ministry. I don’t know if I can, but let me try to explain how amazing God was to us during 2015. I read an article in the newspaper about a food pantry in another north Georgia county. It is a wonderful ministry itself. The article reported that this food pantry assisted approx. 4,100 households in 2015. Those households consisted of approx. 12,000 individuals the article reported. We praise God for this ministry. We are very familiar with their good work. And we know that since this ministry has the support of 31 area churches, monetary support is rarely an issue for them. That is not to say they have a limitless flow of funds, but a steady flow. However, we have the support of only 8 churches and the demand for assistance is nearly twice as great here in our county. And when you consider that our over-all monetary support dropped more than $22,000.00 in 2015, you have to believe it is God that has kept our doors open. That’s what we believe. We give Him all honor and glory. I can’t say if God is pleased with the Care Mission, I pray He is. But, I can say this for certain, we are operating off faith. High octane faith. And we need your prayers to keep it up. Planning to plant a garden? How about planting a row for the Care Mission. We can provide you with boxes or bags to collect your produce for donation. With very little additional effort you can help us help others in our community. Do you shop at Food City? We have $50.00 Food City Gift Cards. When you purchase a card from us 100% goes to the mission and you have a $50.00 Gift Card for any Food City Store! It’s a win / win. You’re out nothing and we gain $50.00. Praise Reports and Prayer Request As always God used numerous sources to provide support to the Care Mission during 2015 and we appreciate each and...

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Mission News: October – December 2015

Posted Dec 20, 2015

Have you ever complained, but tried to hide your whining by weaving your grumbling in with Christian-speak? I do that sometimes, in fact I did it just the other day. A friend asked how things were going at the mission and my response was “We’ve already exceeded the number of individuals assisted compared to last year.” But then I started to complain. I complained about this and that basically expressing my displeasure in how God was handling the challenges for the mission this year. I sowed in enough Christian-speak to make it sound good, but I was complaining and I knew God was listening. I wanted God to hear. At least I thought I wanted God to hear. Even though I pray for wisdom every day I can still become pretty arrogant and stupid sometimes. I’d hate to think how foolish I’d be if I didn’t pray for wisdom! After leaving my friend the Holy Spirit really began working me over. I thought any minute some guy would walk up and say, “Hey. I’m Job and you’re an idiot.” Nothing wrong with acknowledging the increased number of individuals served. Praise God for that! And nothing wrong with acknowledging that our monetary support is down this year. Praise God for what we’ve gotten! Statistics and good record keeping are important. They promote good stewardship, trust, and accountability. However, it is impossible to find within the numbers some of the most important reasons the Care Mission exist. Some of the most amazing things that God is doing through the Care Mission cannot be found on paper. Recently Kendra and I were lying in bed having some pillow talk and she wondered aloud if what we were doing really mattered. The next day a mother and her daughter spotted us while we were taking care of business in Rossville. The mom, daughter and a son were clients of the mission, but we had not seen them in some time. The two seemed genuinely excited to see us as they updated us on their life, both good and bad. They explained that they greatly missed our weekly Bible studies (Jesus Study) but they’d lost their car so were unable to attend. They went on to explain how important the Care Mission had been in their life, the difference it had made in their faith. The mom said that I was the only Christian male role model her son had ever been close to. He had spent time with me in the food pantry. She said he was working on his GED in hopes of finding a better job so he could purchase a car and return to the Bible study and volunteering with us. We were both humbled. As we drove away Kendra rightly stated, “I guess God knew we needed to hear that.” Kendra has always had a gift for note writing. She will send a note to someone the Holy Spirit places on her heart. Her words always timely and encouraging. We expanded that part of our ministry during 2015, sending out prayer notes to those we’ve been asked to pray for. The response has been astonishing. Hardly a day goes by that we aren’t thanked for our simple notes of prayer. As one lady pointed out to me, some people have...

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Mission News: July – September 2015

Posted Sep 19, 2015

As most of you probably already know, the Chattanooga area BI-LO’s have been purchased by FOOD CITY. This includes the four Walker / Catoosa County stores that support this ministry. Over our past 10 years these BI-LO stores have been a huge blessing to us. Last year alone these stores and their customers contributed just over $17,000.00, making them our largest single financial supporter. This year they had donated just under $9,000.00 before the buy-out. This financial support has been in addition to the over 26 tons of food donations received annually. We’ve had no contact as of yet with FOOD CITY, nor do we expect to until the changeover is complete. At this time they’re allowing the stores to continue to donate food items as usual. No financial support, however. We do know that FOOD CITY is not currently a member of the national food bank network, Feed America, as we and the Chattanooga Area Food Bank are. This is not necessarily a bad thing, BI-LO only joined a few years ago and our relationship with them was actually better before Feed America got involved. On the other hand, our relationship with Wal-Mart greatly improved when they joined Feed America. So, there are pros and cons. We’ll just have to wait and see. The only thing consistent about ministry is that it’s always changing. Things around us are always changing, our support comes and goes, moves from this avenue of revenue to that one. What never changes, the thing that is always solid, is the source. We know that our God provides all things. He just allows those around us to be used as avenues of revenue. When one door closes, another door opens. When one well runs dry, a spring pops up somewhere else. In this way the honor and glory always remains His. September is Hunger Action Month! All across America food pantries are taking a deep breath, I know we are. June, July and August are traditionally the hardest stretch for us. Kids are out of school so the demand for assistance goes up, financial support and available volunteers goes down. Things slow down…a little…in September and October. This gives us a small break in the action. But, only a small one since we must restock and reload for November, December and January, the second most demanding stretch. So, here are some ways you can put your support into action during September; September 2nd VJ Day, 11th Patriot Day and 18th POW/MIA Day; show your support for our nation’s Veterans, Police and Firemen by making a donation in their honor or memory. September 7th Labor Day; blessed to have a job? Make a donation to show your gratitude. September 13th Grandparents Day; make a donation in honor or memory of your grandparents or your grandchildren. September 20th Mission Director Kendra’s 55th; if the Care Mission has blessed you or someone you know, make a donation to honor Kendra; $5.50, $55.00, $550.00, $5,500.00? September 23rd Brown Bag Wednesday; challenge your co-workers or fellow students to “brown bag” their lunch and donate the money they saved that day or all week. September 27th Buck Bucket Week; display a bucket at work, at school or at church and encourage others to donate a buck, or five, for each...

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Mission News: April – June 2015

Posted May 23, 2015

“I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:1, 2 One day recently I was listening to praise music while heading to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank in our big truck. I was alone with my thoughts, music cranked up. At first I was going over in my mind all the things I needed to get done that day, that week. Right about Rock Spring, without really thinking about it, I set those things aside and began to thank God for all His blessings on my life. Singing along with the music at the top of my voice I praised Him. The Holy Spirit flooded my soul, pouring out of my mouth, filling the cab of our ’98 Ford diesel. By the time I reached Chickamauga tears of joyous worship streamed down my face. This continued all the way to the Food Bank, where I sat in the parking lot for a moment to wrap off my face and clean my glasses before backing up to the loading dock. As I climbed out of the truck I thanked God for the trip, after all He’s a busy God with more pressing issues than mine. Climbing the steps to the warehouse I was reminded that God is never too busy, it is I who neglects to make the proper time for Him. If during the busyness of ministry, or life, we sacrifice the fellowship of Christ, what have we gained? More importantly, what have we lost? I’ve no doubt each of you have plenty for which to give God praise, but to add to those allow me to share with you the following information in regards to the Care Mission. In May of 2014 we learned that an avenue of financial support had closed. As it turned out the amount we lost compared to 2013 was nearly $23,000.00. A huge amount for men to overcome, but not God. The “Body of Christ” answered. Support from individuals increased $21,200.00. Amen! Church and Church Groups support increased $1,150.00. Amen! And Corporations and Civic Organization support increased $5,700.00. Amen! So what could have been a major loss became a net gain when placed in the hands of Christ. Amen and Amen! In 2014 God used the Care Mission, and their supporters, to provide food and/or clothing assistance to 7,265 Households (up 386 over 2013). Those households included 22,183 individuals (up 2,346 over 2013). Praise God! Approx. 79% of individuals assisted were either children, senior citizens or disabled. Doesn’t the Bible say something about serving the least? Matthew 25. Approx. 360 Tons of food was distributed in 2014, enough to prepare approx. 308,300 meals. We serve an awesome God. If you consider all our operating cost for 2014 ($116,292.28) we were able to provide those meals for less than 38 cents each. That cannot be done without the hand of God. The total estimated retail cost for all the food and/or clothing assistance distributed during 2014 would be nearly $1.7 million. Let that sink in. If all the families who received assistance from the Care Mission had gone to a regular retail store and purchased the...

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Mission News: January-March 2015

Posted Feb 15, 2015

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.”  – Isaiah 6:8 Sometime in 1999 a friend of mine, Jack Jones, and I began discussing the need for a ministry in our area to assist families who needed home repair. Since Kendra and I had our own home  repair company we could see that some families had incomes that were too much to receive government assistance, but not enough to pay for much needed home repairs themselves. Also, we often found that those who could qualify for government assistance would not receive enough to truly make the repairs properly. In 2000, without really knowing it, Jack and I began a ministry. As God brought needs to our attention we would address them in our spare time with whatever funds we could mustard up. Somehow God provided. A few others came along side and before we knew it we had an honest to goodness ministry going on. We had no name, no funding, no support, just a willingness to be used by God. Then Ken Hooper got involved. Ken saw something bigger and urged us to become incorporated. Since both Jack and I were still working full time, Ken, now retired, took the lead. In 2002, under Ken’s leadership we became Here I Am, Inc. We took the name from Isaiah 6:8, I know it should be Here Am I, but that sounded too formal and we are most definitely not a formal group. Joe Kilpatrick and Donald Autry joined our Board. Others would come and go, but for years the five of us were the core group. In December 2003 we received our 501 (c) 3 certification. Now better organized and with proper credentials we began to truly live up to our name. We took on any task God gave us believing and trusting in Him to provide. We did everything from handicap ramps to complete remodeling, major and minor repairs. On one occasion Ken even took a truck load of medical  supplies from Chattanooga to Texas for distribution to Third World countries. So there we were, not an ordained member among us, eager to serve Christ by serving others and willing to fail for His name sake. A food pantry was not on our radar, but nothing sneaks up on God. During the summer of 2004 Kendra shared with us the vision God had placed in her for a food pantry ministry in Walker County. Without hesitation the Here I Am Board agreed to foster her vision. In June 2005, Here I Am, Inc. d/b/a The Care Mission opened its doors. In 2014 God used The Care Mission to provide food and/or clothing assistance to 7,277 households which included 21,823 individuals. Approx. 80% of the individuals served were children, senior citizens or disabled. We serve an awesome God. This June we will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of The Care Mission. But, this would not have been possible if it weren’t for a handful of men who were willing to go outside the walls of the church; willing to forsake denomination and tradition for obedience and compassion. I count myself greatly blessed and highly favored to be one of those men....

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