This Thanksgiving, while most of us were making our own meal and family plans, the Journey brothers in Bakersfield were thinking of the widows, orphans and the needy.  Over 400 Journey brothers and their families, which totaled nearly 1500 people, gave themselves over a 3 day period leading up to Thanksgiving to serve meals to those in need in their community.  The Influencers in Bakersfield lead the way and they engaged 13 churches in a unified effort which resulted in delivering over 30,000 Thanksgiving meals this year.

 

The fun started Tuesday evening, as 1200 people gathered for “Turkey Tuesday” to baste the 2100 turkeys to beprepared for this year’s feed.  The turkeys were then placed in refrigerated trucks.  Wednesday morning, the fire crew started the fires in 18 special culverts, 4′ Wide by 10′ Long.  After building heat and ashes for 7 hours, they began lowering the baskets, each with 70 turkeys, into the culverts to cook for 13 hours until 3:00 or 4:00 Thanksgiving morning.  Then, the turkeys were transported on trailers to the Costco parking lot, where 5000 people gathered to assemble the meals and deliver them to the families.

 

The men worked with 6 Bakersfield schools, along with other avenues, to identify the families they would bless this year.  Each family was assigned to a delivery team and the families were contacted in advance.  Kids of Journey guys joined in by drawing a picture and writing a note to afamily.  The goal was to establish contact with the families in need to build a relationship which would last beyond Thanksgiving.  They desired to feed these families more than one meal; they wanted to feed them the Bread of Life, which lasts forever.  Many of these relationships will continue on into Christmas and beyond, as the men will try to connect the families with a church community.  Before the turkeys left the Costco lot, a group of men prayed over the meals and over the families that will receive theblessing.  This took extra time, but to them, it was the most important part.

 

This effort all started 7 years ago, when a manager at Costco had some extra turkeys at Thanksgiving.  103 people met at the Costco parking lot and delivered 378 turkeys.  This became a tradition for a few years and the numbers grew, until a few years ago, when the Journey guys decided to prepare the turkeys for the families.  The result has become this mammoth effort which is uniting churches in the community and drawing attention to Christ.

 

The Bakersfield Influencers have been intentional about making this an “underground” effort.  They did not want any one church’s name in lights, for to them, this was done by the “Church of Bakersfield.”  They would not allowmedia to cover this event until this year, and then, only with the agreement that no names would be used.  One reporter asked, “Why are you doing this?”  In tears, the response was simply, “To take care of the widows, the orphans and the needy.”  To that, the reporter found herself in tears.

 

If you asked most of the men why they were doing it, they would most likely give credit to God, realizing that they are acting out of their abiding relationship with Him.  His love compels them to help others, and it becomes a penetrating force whichtranscends church lines and permeates their community of influence.  They truly understand “Gabe’s Principles of Influence” which are imparted in The Journey, as they are “Living it Out”in Bakersfield.  What an example of Christ’s own words, “If you abide in Me, you will bear much fruit.” 

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