Send Network Blog
How spam email led to pandemic food aid
God uses anything — even spam emails — to fulfill His mission.
In 2017, Pastor Josh Turansky was building his launch team, preparing to plant Haven City Church in Baltimore, Maryland. He got a mass email — the kind that usually collects virtual dust in our overflowing inboxes — from a Lutheran mission society.
Instead of trashing it, Turansky opened it.
“A Lutheran mission organization was struggling, and their giving had been declining for some time. They owned ten of these centers around Maryland, including one near our church. I emailed them back, and they said, ‘We have this center, we’re thinking about selling it, and we want another church to come in and run it for us.’ I responded, and within about 40 hours, we had a building and we were running the mission center,” Turansky explained.
Josh Turansky and his team started running the Lutheran Mission Society’s Compassion Center, after responding to a random, mass email.
They took over the center — a run-down building resembling a thrift store — two years before COVID-19. When the new coronavirus pandemic began spreading throughout the U.S., the relief center became a distribution spot for the hungry.
“We were already using the center for community restoration purposes, but when the coronavirus hit, it became a temporary free distribution site for the food bank, giving away about 10,000 pounds of food a week, serving about 500 households.”
SERVING THE COMMUNITY
The coronavirus has been inconvenient for all and detrimental for some. It has particularly made daily life more strenuous for some Latino communities in the Baltimore area.
“We developed a new partnership with a Latino organization. We were on a lot of conference calls with the city and with our district, and a few needs arose around food — specifically with Latino immigrants who don’t have as much access to resources in English — like how to get food, how to stay safe and social distancing information. So, about 75% of the food is going to [Latino] families in the immediate area,” Turansky said.
As schools have closed their doors — some for the remainder of the school year—this has forced many classrooms online, placing additional responsibility on parents to help their children academically.
“At the same time, a separate need arose with a local elementary school where 600-700 kids are living in poverty,” Turansky explained. “These kids are now having distance education, and we hired one of our church members to create a virtual tutoring program and a tech support program to serve the school. We’re like the middleman. We run the volunteer training through our systems.”
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
Turansky hopes the once-dilapidated center will resurrect its reputation as a place of restoration and gospel-centered healing in the community by becoming a men’s discipleship and transition home. They also hope to host future missions teams there.
God’s provision for His people and the community comes from all sorts of places — even random emails offering to give away buildings.