It started with a 2012 soccer shoe drive at Central College. The idea was planted and it grew into an estimated 700,000 items being donated and resold for local and global missions in Spencer, IA. How does this h
appen? Well, God happens and He moves through His people to go and multiply in this world. On the five-year anniversary of the Many Hands Market opening, I celebrate the work God is doing through a group of people in Spencer, IA, called to be local hands, with global hearts, to transform lives near and far.
In Luke 5, Jesus called His first disciples. He began by teaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee where some people gathered to listen. Simon, soon to be renamed Peter, was one of those listening while he cleaned his nets after a long night of fruitless fishing on the lake. Soon, Jesus was being crowded and needed more room, so he asked Simon a simple ask, “Can I borrow your boat to continue the teaching?” Simon said yes and rowed Jesus offshore. Then, when Jesus had finished teaching, He made another request of Simon, “Let’s go out to deep water and let down our nets for a catch.” Simon, knowing it was the middle of the day, understood this wasn’t a great idea, but because he heard Jesus teach, he gave Him a chance. They went fishing. Soon, they were catching so many fish, their nets were breaking and the boat was sinking, even though Simon had been fishing the entire night before and didn’t catch a thing. James and John, Simon’s business partners, witnessed this and came over to help with the haul. All three of them saw the incredible catch Jesus had brought from nothing; immediately, they left everything to follow Him, learning to fish for people.
I share this story as it reminds me of what God has done and continues to do through the Many Hands Market in Spencer. Much like Peter on the shore, many were going about working and looking for signs of the Messiah. Then, Jesus whispered, “What if you could show people the love of Jesus through local business, while at the same time, change the life of thousands in Haiti through the resources raised?” His first ask was small, simply stating, “Have conversations with others in the community.” Then, He had a little bigger ask, saying rent and build out an 11,000 square foot facility, even though it looked foolish to many people. Then, just like when Peter went fishing with Jesus, the donations started to flood in, the volunteers showed up to help, and the shoppers lined up at the door. After witnessing these early miracles, the people of the Market metaphorically pulled their boats up on shore and followed Jesus.
Since the doors opened on August 3, 2013, God has moved in mighty ways. Just look at these numbers: For sales, an estimated 700,000 items have sold and the cashiers have rung up over 174,000 transactions. On the volunteer front, the Market has had over 41,000 hours of volunteer time given to the ministry. And on the charity front, the Market has given over $400,000 to Many Hands for Haiti programs and local non-profits or charitable offerings. Some of the local donations have been to Spencer Special Olympics, Little Mavs Child Care, Special Youth Challenge Ministries, Spencer Feed Our Children, Mid-American Equine Breeders Association, Timber Bay Ministries, Guardian Angel, Spencer Birthright, ATLAS Ministries of Spencer, Feed Our Children, Love Spencer, Cherish Center, MOPS, CASA & ICFCRB, Iowa Lake Community College clothing vouchers, Clay County Citizens Awareness Council, private donations to families in need, and local vouchers to people in need.
As good as the numbers and dollars are, they don’t tell the entire picture of what God is doing. Members of the Market pray for the Spencer community and those hurting within it. They strive to love on people right where they are, even the tough-to-love ones! The Market gives people a purpose through their employment and volunteer efforts, building unique community for people with different backgrounds, genders, and age-brackets. I can’t say enough about the great people I have met through the Many Hands Market. They are God’s people, used for His purposes. Jim, Chlea, Noreen, Donna, Maury, Ruth, Lon, Monica, Mareen, Marlis, Deona, Maren, Rick, Deb, Gloria, Mike, Don, Sam, Judy, Kent, Alice, Shelly, Paul, Dave, Christian, Brenda, Mindy, Betty, Helen, Matt, Vicky, Duane, Rob, Lorilee, Lisa, Patty, Bill, Klaus, Bryan, Preston, Kurt, Spencer High Students, Hope Haven, Connie, Sharon, Pam, Kris, Mallory, Marjean, Olivia, Hannah, Brayden, Craig, Christi, and Karmen, thank you for showing how to serve your local community and serve those God cares about in Haiti. You are all lights in this world.
Many Hands for Haiti stands on the shoulders of the Many Hands Market, called to be local hands with global hearts transforming lives. Too many times, people limit God and say a ministry needs to be local OR global. For those who have been fishing with Jesus, they understand the Kingdom is both local AND global. Praise God He has chosen The Market for this calling.
This article originally appeared in on Many Hands for Haiti's website. To read more stories about the roots and foundations of MH4H, click on Standing on the Shoulders by Tim Brand.