When people ask us about what we do we get a range of responses, but when we get to the fruit run part we have received some of the saddest, disheartening responses. Here are some of our thoughts as to why we do this and some of what happens.
First of all, we drive down streets where a large percentage of our community’s population will never drive down. Let’s face a sad reality, in these areas of town there are huge amounts of drug and alcohol abuse, and it is populated by a large percentage of people regularly incriminated for violence, theft and drugs regardless of race or family group.
Does this mean that every or any person living in these areas are dreadful, dangerous people? No Way! That’s why driving around is so special – we meet some lovely people, but because society has become so good at blanketing areas of our town with labels that help persuade us to disassociate from and forget ‘such people’, they are left out and forgotten and devalued.
Something I highly respect and value about Jesus’ life, is that this is where you would find him. He was/is light in a very dark world, He was/is a shepherd to straying sheep and when the Word became flesh – He moved into the neighbourhood. He didn’t just visit, and wash himself of people and their terrible sins when He left. He didn’t fear that if he ministered there to these people, that the numbers of people he influenced would be greatly affected as He associated with the wrong people, all of whom wouldn’t help the annual statistics report of members or conversions.
It wasn’t about numbers for Jesus.
Jesus wasn’t all about ‘Come to me’, He also went to them. He came to me. So many Christian organisations and churches stop at opening their doors, waiting for people to come them, and the only sign of them going out into the World is when a price (in various forms of currency!) is put on – delivery fees. When Jesus went to the cross on Calvary what did He charge you? Nothing. Zilch. Nadda. Zero. It cost Him more than we will ever know, and more. His relationship with His father. His life.
The good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep. – For undeserving sods like you and I.
I’ve been told that these people ‘don’t deserve’ the fruit. Dole bludgers. Theifs. Children who don’t respect a thing they a given. This can be a real struggle in the mind and heart at times – especially when you might be getting rocked (rocks thrown at your car), or sworn at, or threatened to have your car rammed. But when I consider that I didn’t deserve Jesus saving my soul that day he was beaten and pierced, I become more grateful that my undeserving sinfulness did not stop Him going to Calvary, and I long for these people to find this saving grace through Christ.
I’ve heard drunks tell us of how undeserving they are to receive these gifts, and then weep – more than I have heard middle-class Christians confess their undeserving need of a Saviour.
To the world, we hand out fruit from our van window to children and families.
In the spiritual realm, when we do this practical task, in faith, a much deeper exchange takes place I believe. There are weeks that I go out with the wrong attitude, without love, and not in faith – and more like by sight and like a resounding horrid gong – and while filling tummies is a great outcome, eternity is forgotten, and eternity is why we’re here.
But when we step out in faith and offer these gifts, we see God at work in multitudes of ways. He opens doors of conversations about Jesus. Only today, a 13 year old boy opened up about losing his 2-year old brother and watching him die a few years ago. Young mothers talk about life with their babies. Grandmothers share of their struggles and joys raising grandchildren. We’ve had discussions about ghosts children and their families have seen. We never cease to be amazed. We’ve seen sour, bitter people laugh. We’ve had people ask us to pray for them. Sometimes we have nothing more than someone grabbing a piece of fruit – not even a thank you – and then, years later they’ve inboxed us to ask if we could take them to the doctors, or sit with them at the dentist. I did this once, and the doctor was delayed for over an hour. I was able to converse and reflect on different bible stories she had learnt in Sunday school over the years. Wasted time? Not so.
‘The fruit run’ began nearly 6 years ago when two women decided they wanted to pray more deliberately for these high % social housing areas in town. So they drove round the streets, taking turns praying for the homes by address, and the children and adults by name. One of the ladies had access to surplus oranges, so she started bringing them along and handing them out as they were praying. She soon realised that more fruit was needed and her and her friend started buying extra fruit. What they also realised, is that they were having contact with parents more than when the kids were picked up and dropped off for Sunday school and at the time, kids club. Over the years different people have done the driving and the praying. It’s one if my favourite times in the week – serving alongside my husband, talking, praying and watching God reveal himself by simply handing out fruit.