After thirty years of being in ministry as a pastor and police chaplain GOD awakened Ron Davidson to an ancient biblical custom that would change the course of his life. The custom was gleaning and it is more relevant today than ever before. As witnessed in the book of Ruth, Israel was commanded by GOD to leave the corners of their fields and the fallen fruit from their vineyards for “the needy and for the stranger” [Leviticus 19:10].
In GOD’s economy there is leftovers for those on the margins and apparently it’s there for the taking, though often unseen. According to EarthWatch, American industry discards or destroys 300 million ton (4 billion pounds) of usable supplies every year. Often these products are a result of overproduction or merely the common consequence of a manufacturing process that leaves no room for even the slightest error. Once these products become unmarketable or costly to sell at discount, they can quickly find their way to our overflowing landfills unless they are gleaned. That’s where Ron and his team step in.
Begun in his mother’s garage in 1998, Ron Davidson’s organization, Gleaning For The World, is one of Forbes and Charity Navigator‘s top-rated non-profits in the nation. In 2006 they shipped more than $300 million worth of goods to impoverished communities both in the U.S. and all over the world. With no staff in the field they serve as the middle man and supply logistics coordinator connecting industries wanting to donate with humanitarian organizations who can use those donations to serve those in dire poverty and need. Providing everything from medical supplies, to clothing, shoes and food, Ron and his staff amazed me the most by the boxes in their warehouse. They were all unbranded- not a single GFTW logo on any of them. In an age of flashy mega-ministries and celebrity endorsements, their plain, unbranded boxes spoke volumes.
Ron: “If you don’t care who gets the glory you can get anything done.”
As we talked, several times his cell phone rang. He politely excused himself as he answered a call from Morocco or China. I could see there was more to this man than he let on. He is an unassuming international deal maker. One side had shoes and another side needed shoes. He was close to striking a deal.
Ron: “We are the middle guy that tries to bring everyone to the table.”
I asked Ron how his Christian faith energizes the idea of gleaning, social justice and ministering to the poor.
Ron: “Stewardship. ‘GOD is sufficient’ scripture says. I believe He is. I believe GOD has provided enough for everybody in the world to have what they need. The reason 40% of the world lives in extreme poverty is greed and an inability to help. A lot of people would help if they knew how to help. So you’re looking at the whole stewardship issue. I think a child deserves a chance at life. The difference between this young man [he was pointing to my 8 year-old son who was with me] having clothes on his back and food to eat and someone to love him, and the child born in Haiti that has nothing, is simply where they were born. They’re still the same children and that’s probably the piece that drives me most. I want to give those kids a chance”
“Mother Teresa said: ‘When you touch the hand of the poor, you touch the heart of GOD’. I want to do this every day”.
If you are in the Central Virginia area GFTW is always in need of volunteers. Connect with them online:
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