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Casseroles for Christ (#ShareYourStOOry)
by Analiz Schremmer
Posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Sometimes, all you need to see a tremendous work of God is a little obedience.

For Mindy Van Andel and her 15-year-old daughter, Abby, obedience came in the form of casseroles--a lot of casseroles.

But this story begins a couple of years earlier; before there were casseroles; when Abby was only 12 and going on her first mission trip with Orphan Outreach to Guatemala.

Abby had just come back from an overnight PIne Cove camp and felt that God was calling her to go on a mission trip.

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“I heard about the Orphan Outreach mission trip to Guatemala through our local radio station,” Mindy says. “I thought it was a great place to start for a 12 year old because Guatemala is an easy three-hour flight from Dallas (they are from Lindale, TX, a Dallas suburb). That first year, we just saved our money and went.”

Mindy said she loved seeing her daughter experience missions for the first time.

“You could see the light bulb go off in her head that she lived a privileged life and realized that she was often making small problems into a big deal--as every 12-year-old does,” she says. “She softened a lot in that trip. She loves kids anyway, so she was in her element working with those kids who are orphaned or at risk of being orphaned.”

Before the trip was over, Abby was already planning to return the next summer.

“She’s a different kid when she’s there,” Mindy says. “She loves the culture. I wouldn’t be surprised if she wanted to move there after college. She understands that she is sharing Jesus with them and that it’s truly changing their lives. She cries every time when we need to come home.”

The summer after that, someone donated money to fund Abby and Mindy Van Andel’s return trip to Guatemala. But this year, her third year, a little fundraising was required. That’s where the casseroles came in.

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Mindy thought it would be a good idea for Abby to “get a little skin in the game” because she knows that sometimes God calls people to something that requires effort on our part. So she talked to Abby and started praying about what type of fundraising God would have them do.

“One night, as I was praying, I got the word ‘casserole’ in my head,” she says. “I talked to Abby and she said, ‘Let’s do it.’ So we started a Facebook group called Casseroles for Guatemala. We added local friends and made out a menu.”

For 12 weeks, they sold one type of casserole each week. They would post each week’s menu item and take orders with a suggested $20 donation per casserole. Then they’d spend Saturdays making the casseroles and on Sundays, everyone would meet at the local Lowe’s parking lot to pick up their orders.

Mindy was surprised to see how God used their efforts to do a lot more than just raise money for a mission trip.

“The very first week, I had a lady who came to pick up a casserole,” she says. “I didn’t know her hardly at all. She was a little late and I could tell that something was wrong. She said, ‘I know that you’re a praying person. If you think about it, can you pray for my family?’ I said, ‘Sure. But can I pray for you now?’ I started praying for her. I said Amen and she unloaded all this stuff going on in her family.”

Mindy ended up referring this woman to a church where she and everyone in her family but her husband accepted Christ into their hearts.

That testimony was the start of many others. The initial people in the Facebook group started adding other friends until eventually, the group reached 350 members.

“I’ve had people call me and say, ‘Can we meet for coffee?’ she says. “Some had questions about going on a mission trip. Other people were like, ‘Why are you so joyful?’ So I got to share the Gospel.”

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A couple of times, Mindy had people who weren’t local call and say that if they sent in money for five casseroles, would they deliver them to five needy families in the community.

She asked her church for a list of those in need.

“They led us to these families they had helped over Christmas and were looking for a way to continue that relationship, so I said, ‘How about dinner?’

“It helped out those families and helped the church get back in there and encouraged them to return.”

A few weeks later, another person did the same thing.

“Her husband is director of Young Life in the area and she had just connected with five families who were extremely poor and her husband had been trying to get the kids to Young Life, so this gave him a chance to get into their home and visit with the parents,” 

“He said, there’s five families. How many meals do you have? I said, ‘I have five meals.’

Mindy has been amazed at what God has done. They raised $4,000--all the money they needed for their trip in only four weeks. After that, the money has gone to raise supplies they will use on their trip and to help fund their missions next year. Her 11-year-old son, Ethan, is already talking about wanting to join next time.

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“My daughter was like, ‘Did you ever think that this would turn out like it has?’ and I said, ‘No Abby, I didn’t. But I should have, because that's how God works.’ When we are obedient, He always goes above and beyond what we would expect or imagine.”

 


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