It’s been said that close scrutiny will show that most crisis situations are opportunities either to advance or stay where you are. For Jonathan Gray, the obvious response to opportunities to move forward is to say, “Yes!”
A few years ago, Jonathan, a local business person, started really listening to what God was wanting him to do. He simply defines it as hearing God's request and finding a way to say yes.
For Jonathan, that meant preparing food and collecting clothing for those less fortunate. He began to invite friends and coworkers in the Louisville area to join in. That was the beginning of His Blessings Box, a grassroots ministry of folks who love and care for others in Jesus’ name.
Then, December 10, 2021 happened.
Jonathan has loved ones in and around Mayfield, one of the towns hardest hit when a line of deadly tornadoes ripped through Western Kentucky late that night. After talking with family and checking on friends, he heard the Holy Spirit tell him: Go to Mayfield and help feed and clothe the people you find there.
Thoughts of doubt, however, soon followed. There was nothing he could do…it was someone else’s problem…he should stay in his lane and just serve at home. Jonathan ignored the doubts and quickly said yes to helping, even though he was unsure what that meant.
“I made a few phone calls to trusted friends asking them to join me, and they said yes,” he said.
Jonathan began making connections in the Mayfield area, finding out what was happening and how his team could help. One of those connections was with Pastor Al Chandler of Northside Baptist Church. “Can we come down and feed folks in the parking lot of your church?” Jonathan asked. The answer was a resounding yes.
Still, Jonathan thought, “How is God going to do this? It’s December!” But sure enough, saying yes meant new possibilities. They were able to secure a large tent, and that’s when the phone started ringing.
“People wanted to help. It was awesome to see how quickly everything came together,” Jonathan said.
On a cold mid-December day, a group of folks drove three hours to Mayfield and began setting up. They were joined by a chef from a restaurant destroyed by the tornado who offered to prepare the meals and folks from Mayfield and the surrounding area who wanted to help.
“It was so exciting to see these people—some churched, others not, some local and others not—and they all came together to make a difference,” Jonathan said.
He remembers what he calls their first big crisis and how God responded. A volunteer told him they were out of chicken, but before they had time to panic, a woman who ran a Tyson chicken plant showed up to offer a semi-truck filled with chicken.
Jonathan’s team served thousands of meals to people who had lost so much. As he looked out at the families sitting in the tent enjoying their first warm meal in days, he knew right then that saying yes to God was worth it.
“We just want to love on people out loud…What’s love look like? Love just looks like showing up in someone’s life and extending that hand and just showing love and peace in everything we do,” he said.
Since those initial days, Jonathan and his team have continued saying yes as they have returned to Mayfield a few times to continue helping feed and clothe people in need.
“We want to show that we care. In those moments, we want to show that they’re loved and give them that moment of peace,” he said. “It’s in that moment that we want to be a reflection of God’s light and God’s love and let Him do the rest.
“In Mayfield, we made some lifelong friends. We were brought together in devastation, but we bonded together through God’s love and abundance.”
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