Following God’s Lead
In April 2021 I was nine months into retirement and had just returned with my wife Jane from our winter in Florida, when I began to realize that, although I was enjoying retirement, I needed something more in my life. I decided to say a prayer that in the past had never gone unanswered for me: Lord, put someone in my path so I can serve you.
A few days later I read an article in the Calvin University Spark alumni magazine about Sus Manos Gleaners. I was inspired by the story of Calvin alumni father-and-son team Jim and Tim Paauw. On a mission trip to Haiti, their hearts were pierced when they witnessed children dying of malnutrition. This experience led them to start Sus Manos Gleaners in Jenison, Michigan. (Sus manos means “his hands” in Spanish.)
When I called Jim Paauw and told him we were considering starting a gleaning organization, we were amazed by his answer: “We’ve been praying for you to call; someone who might share our passion to feed the hungry.” Our hearts were touched. We eventually visited Sus Manos, volunteered there, and the idea of starting a gleaner in Kalamazoo began to take greater shape in our minds. The Paauws’ help has been invaluable.
We shared our newfound passion with our friends Nate and Mary Rykse. Immediately they said, “We’re in. We want to serve orphans like the Paauws are doing through Sus Manos.” We began networking and sharing our vision with friends and family and were affirmed repeatedly. In October we visited two gleaners in Ontario, Canada. Like the team at Sus Manos, these people inspired us, educated us, and were willing to help.
In October our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status was approved, and our business accounts were opened. Contributions started rolling in. We continued to look for a building to buy for Kalamazoo Valley Gleaners. We are praising God for answering our prayers as recently a generous donor purchased a 23,000 sq. ft. $800,000.00 building for our use! Now we have teamed up with local contractors to renovate the building, and we need to purchase the equipment necessary to process surplus produce to feed a hungry world.
There is much work yet to do, but we see God going before us, making a path. We need folks who share our passion to feed the hungry, prayer warriors, volunteers, farmers and financial contributors.
Join us today! You will be blessed.
Jim Van Tuinen