Posts Tagged With: Crossfire Church

Holler back, Appalachia & The Delta.

hollerLast July I spent five rainy days in Appalachia, in the far west of North Carolina near Boone – and another two days in the Arkansas Delta in the town of Hughes, visiting new projects Heifer International is undertaking here in America. barn

This is pretty country.hydrangea

In the Delta, it’s awesomely fertile country (or at least it was before the advent of agribusiness with its soil-stripping, water-hogging monoculture of corn, cotton, rice and soybeans that requires only one person per 1,000 acres to farm). agribusinessBut this is also hardscrabble America … where poverty prevails, industry has fled, opportunity seems to have vanished, and hope is hard to find.shedIt’s important to see this America.

The only food store in Hughes burnt last year.

The only food store in Hughes burnt down last year.

It matters.Austin

Because 15% — or 46.2 million people– now live in poverty in America; and when I say poor, I mean a family of four earning less than $22,200 a year. And 36% of those poor people are children. The miracle of grapes

But to most of us, they’re invisible.waitressesWhen you’re in a place like Hughes or Ashe, N.C., (or just living with our heads in the sand), it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing that can be done. But Heifer’s crew of Jeffrey, Perry, Edward, Pastor Rob, Bubba, Duncan, Travis and a host of others have a different view.

Edward Rucker, Heifer's charismatic community organizer in Hughes.

Edward Rucker, Heifer’s charismatic community organizer in Hughes.

Biker/gardener Duncan and his wife

Biker/gardener Duncan and his wife tend a huge community garden in North Wilkesboro, NC

Carol Coulter, cheesemaker extraordinaire.

Carol Coulter, Appalachian cheesemaker extraordinaire.

Heifer’s plan is to work within these communities using sustainable agriculture to improve the health, nutrition and income of the people – organizing smallholder farmers (providing land when necessary) to grow fruits, honey, nuts, meats, and vegetables that can be sold in local markets. hopeBasically, it’s about turning these food deserts and manufacturing graveyards into oases of growth. pepperThat endeavor requires education, support, counsel, supply chains, marketing and attitudinal changes – but Heifer and hundreds of activists in the community believe it can be done– and who am I to argue with hope?Angela, Chad and Pastor Rob BrooksAs Perry Jones, Heifer’s USA country director says, “Once an opportunity is given and people have a chance for a dignified, self-reliant life, they lunge into it.” secret

Have hope. Read more from Appalachia & The Delta here:

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/07/18/a-hard-rains-gonna-fall/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/07/24/seeds-of-changesprouts-of-hope-2/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/07/27/down-on-the-farm-sure-looks-like-up-to-me/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/08/01/bikers-for-broccoli/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/08/06/a-short-rant-about-food/

https://heifer12x12.com/2012/08/09/despair-hope-in-the-delta/

Categories: Agriculture, Appalachia, Food, Heifer International, Photography, Poverty, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Bikers for Broccoli.

Pastor Duncan Overrein of Crossfire Biker Church

I’m not much of a biker chick (I proudly ride a scooter, dude) and precious few people confuse me with an evangelical Christian, but I have to tell you, I was about ready to jump on a Harley and get a few big Jesus tattoos after meeting the liturgical heads of the Crossfire Biker Church in Wilkes, North Carolina, during my trip with Heifer to Appalachia.

Big, sweet Dwight “Bubba” Smith

Duncan Overrein and Dwight (Bubba) Smith are the Associate Pastors (Alan Rice is the Senior Pastor) of Crossfire, an admittedly unorthodox United Methodist Church. Their sanctuary is in Cooler #1 of a 17,000 square-foot former refrigerated trucking terminal, their choir is a kick-ass hard rock band, and their collection basket is called “Loot the Boot” –but if their mission isn’t pure love in action, I don’t know what is.

Duncan and Bubba were called to the ministry after admittedly colorful pasts, and they have thrown their hearts and their Harleys into the work. With Heifer’s help, they’ve created The Giving Table, a hub for a regional food system whose mission is to bring jobs, better nutrition and income to Wilkes County.

The collection boots.

Bubba, who worked in Crossfire’s terminal/tabernacle for 8 years and knows every nook and cranny in the massive place, is planning to use every square foot of refrigerated space to distribute grass-fed, hormone-free beef to a burgeoning market, plus they’ve already started a food pantry that feeds 50 needy families a week, partnered with Wilkes County to get a $358,000 grant to build a greenhouse that is supplying thousands of seedlings to local gardeners, and started their own one-acre vegetable garden that is donating oodles of fresh produce to those in need.

And there are a lot of needy people in Wilkes County. Fully 25% of Crossfire’s own congregation is unemployed, and the county is one of the poorest and most food insecure in the state. But on the up side, Wilkes is fourth of North Carolina’s 100 counties in beef production. So Smith is working with Heifer’s Jeffrey Scott to make that a viable enterprise: buying finished steers from local farmers, partnering with a local slaughterhouse (more jobs!), distributing the meat to stores and restaurants, and donating 10% of all that beef to the Second Harvest food pantry. Which is really a good thing, as nationally food pantry demand has gone up by about 50% while government support has decreased by about 66%.

Until they get started with beef, sugar & salt hams are curing in Crossfire’s warehouse.

Meanwhile, out back Duncan is overseeing Crossfire’s big, beautiful God’s Garden in Community with a passel of volunteers who show up every day to stake, tend, harvest & weed. When I ask Duncan if he’s always been a gardener, he looks at me like I’m a bit loco and says,  “No, I’ve always been a biker. But the Lord showed me to it.” I ask how the Lord showed him and he replies, “In Genesis, Adam and Eve were told ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’ … so I figured I needed to learn how to grow things. And look how awesome God is!”

Duncan gestures exuberantly  at his abundant garden and I totally concur: it is pretty darn awesome.

Duncan’s green miracle.

Pastors Bubba and Duncan still have a long road to hoe before they get their meat processing venture off the ground; it’s a complicated enterprise with lots of moving parts and hurdles to overcome. But they have Heifer’s support, they are stepping out in faith, and they’re not afraid of much– maybe because they’ve seen a lot of bad road.

As Duncan philosophically puts it “As bikers, we’ve always been a brotherhood, always worked hard, always lent a helping hand, and always had each other’s backs. So I figure we’ve been doing God’s work all along.”

Pastor Duncan Overrein, Brother Jeffrey Scott of Heifer & Pastor Bubba Smith talking it out.

Do I hear an amen?

Categories: Agriculture, Animals, Appalachia, Food, Heifer International, Photography, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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