The light was just beginning to fail as the sun set over the mountains. The mosquitoes were out in full force, hungrily swarming around us as we put on our jackets and quickly tried to cover up any exposed skin on our arms and legs. Heron’s Nest RV Park always teemed with bug life this time of night as it sat peacefully on the banks of the Colorado River. We had just finished serving dinner to about 20 people who lived in the park and that night it seemed everyone was about as hungry as the mosquitoes—our tall stack of pizza boxes sat completely empty.
Most people had wandered back to their campers after getting their food and now just a few of the residents were left waiting for us to sit down to study the Bible together. As we gathered around a table and began passing out Bibles to everyone, a Latino man walked up looking for food. One of our Spanish-speaking leaders greeted him warmly and apologized that we didn’t have any food left for him. He came over to sit with us, and pointing at the Bibles on the table, he said in Spanish, “It’s okay because this is the real food that I need.”
This story illustrates one of the things we have seen over and over again as we have ministered in Heron’s Nest: these people are hungry—hungry physically, hungry spiritually, and hungry for community. God first began to put this RV park on the heart of our team leader Lee back in the summer of 2018. It’s a quiet little community of roughly 50 RVs and fifth-wheels, tucked away down by the river, just off the interstate in Silt, Colorado but completely out of sight. People easily drive by it everyday and never realize it’s there. At least that’s how it was for us. Lee first got involved by partnering with a local non-profit to bring free lunches to the kids in the park on Fridays. As he interacted with them, it became clear that the kids desperately needed this food and would eagerly wait for Lee to come every week. As a mission team, we began reaching out to the residents by providing free dinners to the community once a week while offering a Bible study afterwards for those who were interested in discovering more about Jesus.
One of the first weeks we served dinner, a resident told one of our leaders, “We are the forgotten ones. Nobody even knows we’re here." In the eight months since we have been ministering there, we have had six different residents die from things like liver failure and gangrene. One of these families who recently lost their husband and father pays exorbitant rates for electricity to heat their uninsulated RV because they are undocumented and it is the only place they can find to live. We hear rumors of multiple sex-offenders in the park and heavy methamphetamine usage among many of the residents. This is a place that screams hunger in every sense of the word—that desperate clawing to get something that will stop the pain or help you make it through one more day.
We have seen this kind of hunger before—in Uganda. We have seen the same kinds of deaths for the very same kinds of reasons. We have seen the same kinds of mental illnesses and manic episodes. We have seen the same kind of painful circumstances where people just can’t get ahead no matter what they do. It seems poverty dresses in the same garb no matter the culture it’s in. And ministry among the poor looks very much the same as well.
The bottom line is that people need Jesus—yes, in Africa and right here in Colorado. In sleepy little towns like Silt. In quiet, hidden places like Heron’s Nest. In the margins and forgotten places of our communities that we drive by every day, never knowing that there are people right where we live who are hungry—for food, for friends, and for God’s life-giving Word.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Are you aware of the people around you who are hungry—those who are struggling physically, relationally, or spiritually? How could you discover the hidden needs in your community? Is God leading you to respond to these needs in some way?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kerri and Andrew Meador lived in Uganda for 7 years before joining Novo staff. They currently serve with a Pioneering Initiatives Team (part of ChurchNEXT) in Colorado, but plan to form a new team and return to Uganda with Novo in the future.