“Lord, we dedicate this new Hand2Hand building to you. Our eyes are on you. Our hearts attuned to you, as you lead and guide us in our new home. I pray for many to hear about your great power, work, and love through Hand2Hand. I pray they are drawn to You, praise You, and follow You!”
– Cheri Honderd’s Prayer Journal entry from 6.1.2021
God at Work
When I think about all that God has accomplished in less than a year, I am amazed.
Stepping into the unpredictable school year of 2020-21 was a big enough challenge for Hand2Hand. Yet, God was choosing to lead us in faith into a new building and renovation as well. During the most unpredictable time, God was asking us to step out in faith in a big way. We prayed and discerned His leading through the purchase of an old and run-down Aldi grocery store in Jenison.
I love looking back and seeing so many areas where God was at work during this process. First Companies was already a fantastic partner of ours. They packed Hand2Hand food together with their employees. We first met their exceptional leaders in January of 2020 when we were invited to their office. Almost immediately, we sensed a comradery. We both had a heart for shining the love, grace, and compassion of Jesus into the lives of kids in need of weekend food. God began our relationship with them even before we knew when a door would be open for a Hand2Hand building.
Behind the scenes
God was also working behind the scenes when He brought our Warehouse Director, Tonia, to the Hand2Hand team a few years ago. Not only has she made our Hand2Hand team stronger and more efficient, she ‘happened’ to be married to Adam. Adam ‘happened’ to be the architect who would design and create a perfect space for us that was functional and beautiful. Adam was a gift as he created the office flow. He even designed how our donated office furniture would welcome all who entered. Because he was married to Tonia, he understood the complexities of what we needed this building to do. When God brought Tonia onto our team, I never even knew Adam was an architect, and yet, God was putting the pieces together before we even knew it.
Raising the funds
Fundraising for our building was also a challenge where God showed His hand. We decided not to use an outside fundraiser as most organizations do but to raise the funds needed ourselves within one year. It was a steep commitment that I didn’t fully realize the extent and additional work, but the frugal part of me didn’t want to raise the extra money needed to bring a firm to raise funds.
In November, I was invited to present our vision and our need for a new building to a foundation. We could reach 10,000 more students with our new building, and we sought to be debt-free so that we could focus on our vision – that every school in West Michigan has a weekend food opportunity – early childhood through high school. I have never asked anyone for the amount of money I was going to request respectfully. Our team prayed me up, and I went into present – while wearing a mask and praying my voice was clear and loud enough.
The morning when presenting to the Foundation, I shared this photo (above) with our Hand2Hand partnering churches, asking for their prayers that Hand2Hand would be blessed with a sizeable financial gift…and God answered our prayers!
God moved amazingly and granted us a $250,000 challenge grant to begin our fundraising. This in part led us to where we stand today – just $200,000 from our needed funding! My prayer is that by the date of our ribbon cutting in August – we can say our building is fully paid for!
A season of ‘firsts’
There are so many more stories I could share of how God has moved through this building. Offers from businesses for donating light fixtures, donating furniture, donating excavation, donating equipment, and so many donating basics of a building – from heating and cooling to garage doors, to paint, to donating labor hours…and the list goes on and on.
We are experiencing many ‘firsts’ at our new building, a few being:
Our first food donation to our new building – 3,747 individual food items from Raymond James & Associates in Holland
Our first business packing event in our new building with First Companies
We can’t begin to imagine who God will bring through our doors, as we continue to partner with churches and go into local schools to pray for and feed kids over the 68-hour gap of the weekend. We can’t begin to comprehend how God will use this bag of weekend food to shine His love and light into the lives of kids and their families. Our deepest desire is for our students to grasp they are seen, known, loved by an almighty God. That he is pursuing them and desires a relationship with them through the gift of Jesus. May this tangible and faithful gift of weekend food represent God’s faithfulness to them.
Indeed, only God can orchestrate what has happened through our building, and as my prayer journal on June 1 states so simply –
“Lord, we dedicate this new Hand2Hand building to You. Our eyes are on You. Our hearts attuned to you, as you lead and guide us in our new home. I pray for many to hear about your great power, work, and love through Hand2Hand. I pray that they are drawn to You, praise You, and follow You!”
Join us at our ribbon cutting and Open House!