Stronger than Cancer: Boxes of Love

Food outreach begins a long-term relationship with one Louisville family.

By Sarah Martin

Rhonda Abrams was overwhelmed.

Estranged from her alcoholic husband and caring for 2 sons, Rhonda received the worst possible news. She had cancer. Hope was fading fast.

A turning point occurred in the form of a Box of Love, part of an annual Thanksgiving outreach to families in need. Here's Life Inner City provides resources and training to urban churches each November. The churches then go out into their neighborhoods to minister to those in need.

The Welcome Interruption

Two women from a local Louisville, Ky., church delivered a box to Rhonda. The women told her about the good news of God's love and forgiveness. They also invited her to church the following day.

Rhonda showed up at the service the next morning, and right in the middle of Pastor Bill Carpenter's sermon, stood up to ask how she could become a Christian.

"Anybody can interrupt me anytime they want to say that," says Pastor Bill.

A Relationship that Lasts

Rhonda's blossoming faith was not slowed down by her illness. Even while in hospice, she intentionally found ways to talk to others about Jesus.

A relationship born out of that Thanksgiving outreach continues today, even after Rhonda's death in April 2007. The church regularly connects with her 2 teenage sons and even provides for them to attend a Christian youth camp in the summer. Rhonda's husband now cares for the boys and has completed a halfway house recovery program.

Not everyone the church meets may be ready to talk about Jesus like Rhonda was, but Pastor Bill knows that Boxes of Love are an invaluable way to connect with people for the long-haul.

"We might meet somebody through Boxes of Love, and they not become a Christian for many years. We wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't build long-term relationships," says Pastor Bill.