For nearly a decade now, Suellen Daniels of Cumming, along with her husband Steve, has been working to put healthy food on the tables of metro Atlanta’s needy families. Every day she longs to be the catalyst for someone else’s new beginning. It’s her way of propagating the hope that lies at the heart of the Easter story.
Hearing Daniels talk about how she came to form the non-profit Fill Ministries, I am reminded that the first evangelist was a woman.
On the morning she found Jesus’ tomb empty, it says in the Book of John, Mary Magdalene announced to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord.”
Mary Magdalene couldn’t keep the resurrection of Jesus to herself any more than Daniels could ignore God’s prompting to feed the hungry.
Like it or not, the Christian journey is hardly a private affair.
Before his ascension, Jesus told his disciples to: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
For Daniels, that means feeding the hungry.
When she founded Meals by Grace in 2011, her goal was to deliver meals to families of school children referred to her ministry by area school counselors.
Last year, she and Steve created Fill Ministries to address needs beyond providing canned goods to the hungry. They started a resource lab to teach life skills and plans are underway to begin job training. Earlier this year, they broke ground on their first aquaponics greenhouse with the goal of improving the health of their clients by providing fresh fruits and vegetables.
How many ministries do you know actually have a plan for the people they help to become self-sufficient and no longer dependant on their services?
In the beginning, that wasn’t Daniels’ goal, but this is what can happen when we see Jesus not as some distant figure we only acknowledge on Easter Sunday, but as the resurrected Christ who leads us to go above and beyond what we think we’re able.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, his disciples believed he’d come to reestablish Israel’s power in the world.
Daniels thought she was being called just to feed the hungry.
In both instances God had something else in mind, something bigger.
Every year as Easter approaches, Daniels said her thoughts turn to new beginnings.
We might not always know what that will look like. A feeding program. A classroom to teach life skills. A farm to raise fresh fruits and vegetables.
Whatever it is, Daniels has found out, it can shine a light in dark places.
And if you’re among those who, like Daniels, believe in the resurrection, all the better.
“He is our hope,” she said.
That, of course, is the underlying message of the day we celebrate Easter.