Church, food bank form caring partnership
Pastor Danny Willis, left, of Searching For His Sheep Ministries and church member James Sieliet unload food from a truck Thursday morning at the church.
2/8/2013 6:01:00 AM
KINGMAN - Pastor Danny Willis admits he was a maniac in another life.
The former Las Vegas nightclub owner said he once was a hardcore alcoholic and a drug addict.
And then, one day, Willis found Jesus. He said the Lord ultimately led him to Kingman, where four years ago he founded the Searching For His Sheep Ministry.
"I'm not what you'd call a book-learned preacher," said Willis. "I was as lost as anybody."
The church on Castle Rock is small and humble, much like its congregation.
The church is Christian, its mission simple: Feed the hungry. Clothe the unclad. Seek out God's sheep.
Enter Betty Kahlor, the executive director of the Kingman Area Food Bank and the secretary-treasurer of the church.
With the food bank's assistance - and by extension the help of the entire community - Willis is able to provide boxes of food to about 50 people a week, every Tuesday and Friday.
"We serve whoever needs it," said Kahlor.
"We're a mission church," Willis explained. "We reach out to give anyone a meal, and let's face it: It seems like 85 percent of the people in Kingman need some kind of help."
The church also helps out about 10 to 20 homeless people every month. They can get a shower, food and clothing. But they can't stay the night.
"We're not licensed for that," said Willis. "So we have to send them on their way."
Many who stop by are transient. Others are among Mohave County's full-time homeless population.
"Some come back every month," said Kahlor, "and some we never see again."
While Willis' congregation numbers 40, he said church services - depending on how many get out of bed on Saturday morning - consist of between 25 and 30 worshippers.
About half of them benefit from the church's partnership with the food bank, said Willis.
"We have a passion for these people," said Willis. "These people that we see in our mission are starving. Their children are starving."
For Willis, his personal starvation came in a different form. After spending decades drinking and drugging, he realized his life was empty.
"There's a hole in all of us," he said. "We try to fill it with alcohol, drugs, women, whatever, but the next day it's back.
"I was a maniac ... but Jesus saved me."
Willis said the road to sobriety was paved with New Testament teachings that helped heal him and "fill the hole."
Kahlor was so taken with Willis's story she decided to visit Searching For His Sheep Ministries. She needed to better understand this man who wanted to partner with the food bank.
Kahlor said she loved the pastor's message and soon joined the church. She's since taken a voluntary position as the church's secretary and treasurer.
Her full-time volunteer job is feeding the people who most need her assistance.
Kahlor said the food bank hands out between 70-100 boxes of groceries every day. Each box has a mix of cereals, pasta, sauce, rice and beans, canned tuna, vegetables and fruit, peanut butter and soups.
Clients can also "shop" at the Kingman Area Food Bank, 2930 Butler Ave., for larger food items and fresh produce, she said.
Twelve to 20 people a day work at the all-volunteer nonprofit, assisted by an average of half a dozen people performing court-ordered community service for minor offenses.
But Willis and Kahlor agree it is the community that keeps the food bank and the church afloat.
Last year, said Kaylor, the food bank delivered more than 1.2 million pounds of food in the Kingman area. The vast majority of items were donated.
"We've been blessed," she said. "We could never get by just on the monetary donations. So many businesses and people help us. Kingman is like that."
"We even got money from members of the Cardinals football team last year," said Willis. "It's because of the community that we're able to serve anybody we see. We don't care what they look like. We don't care how they smell. We just want to serve them and serve Jesus."
Searching For His Sheep Ministries holds worship services every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Sabbath School takes place at 9:30 a.m. and Bible study is held every Wednesday evening.
For more information on the church, call Willis at (928) 530-4514.
For more information or to donate to the Kingman Area Food Bank, call (928) 757-4165.