Last Thursday was one of those days that once again, I was touched.
If you look at this face above, this little girl. I am not sure her name…we never met formally. Thursday, I was working on a project…telling the story of “The Welcome Table”. This is a program put together by the Andrews United Methodist Church in Andrews, NC. Each Thursday, Andrews UMC partners with other churches to provide a meal to the community. From 5 to 6pm every Thursday, anyone from the community can come to have a meal, free of charge.
As leaders from Andrews UMC told me, unemployment in this rural area of Western North Carolina is high. Many of the manufacturing companies and other large businesses either closed or moved out of town. Many families left to figure out what next. The project was to document the day, find the story, and tell the mission of the Rural Church Initiative for the Duke Divinity School. I literally had one hour to capture the story, find the right people, interview them, and capture the essence of this day for others to see.
I was working the room, trying to capture the moments from a far with my video camera and digital camera…I began to gain the trust of those who were there for diner or maybe some fellowship. The pastor says that between 50 and 100 people from the community come to the Welcome Table on Thursdays. They come for many reasons, whether they do not want to eat supper alone, they have friends who attend, or they need a hot meal. Whatever the reason, Andrews UMC wants to provide the opportunity for the community to share with one another.
Some of the people thought I was a journalist with my big cameras. They have experience with “these types.” You see, I used to be one of “those” people. I have been to Andrews twice before. Once in 1998 when they thought that Eric Robert Rudolf had appeared in Andrews. I was there working, with my big cameras, trying to find a story. Then again in 2006 when they actually caught Eric Robert Rudolf. I was there covering that story…once again coming to this town in search of the big story.
On Thursday, As I made small talk with many of the volunteers, they asked me where I was from…I shared with them that I was from South Carolina. I also shared with them that I had been here before…twice. They knew it was for the reasons I just described…and they were glad I was here capturing a great story.
But I was struck…by the face of this little girl. As I sat across the room, capturing her face as she was eating her watermelon…I was struck, humbled, embarrassed, and scared. I am not sure why this little girl and her family were here today. I could only speculate that her little tummy was hungry. Here I am, I have had my share of meals. I almost felt a sense of sadness and doubt coming across her face.
She has no stake in this game. She has no fight in this political madness. She is just eating a meal. I thought about all the many children across our America…hungry, mothers and fathers unemployed, no insurance, no healthcare…who are we? Who are we to squabble about numbers, political discourse that leads to nothing but chest pounding resolve…this little girl. She is our future…
Andrews UMC has a big heart. They are reaching out to this community with one mission, to give. This Thursday…they are providing a good meal to close to 75 people; young, old, black, white, males, females, believers, and non-believers. They believe in their community.
This little face struck me and made me think all the way home. Think about my little girl, Rose Frances who will be here in September.