To Feed the Hungry and Heal the Brokenhearted

by Andy Wood on August 18, 2010

in Five LV Laws, Following Your Passion, Life Currency, Love, LV Cycle, LV Stories, Photos, Principle of Increase

What turned my head was the sign for Aunt Beaut’s pan-fried chicken. 

Why is it when God wants to get my attention, the easiest way to do it involves chicken?  My belt really is a leather fence around a chicken graveyard.

Anyway, last week we were in downtown Charlotte on vacation.  And there on the corner of West Trade and Tryon Street was the King’s Kitchen.  Open for lunch or dinner, the restaurant trumpets “New Local Southern Cuisine.”

They had me at “Southern.”

True, I can get fried chicken anywhere.  But when was the last time you went into a restaurant that had collard greens, cream corn, and butter beans all on the menu for lunch?

So I staked the place out, and the next day my wife and I walked the block from our hotel to sample the King’s Kitchen for lunch.

I immediately knew something was different about this place when I read the quotation on the wall just inside the door – one of the quotes from the Bible about feeding or being generous to the poor.  And inside, another quote – this one from Mother Theresa.

It took a while to realize they were playing Christian music in the background over the Syrius Satellite Radio system.  What we did notice was what we would expect in any nice restaurant:  friendly service, good food, a wonderfully designed and sharply decorated dining room, and a busy-enough crowd to let us know we hadn’t made a mistake by coming.

This was no soup kitchen, friends.

The King’s Kitchen  is a not-for-profit ministry established by award-winning Chef Jim Noble who was described by Martin Taylor in The New Southern Cook as “one of the best chefs in the South… whose insistence on the finest ingredients in his restaurants may well make him the closest thing we have to an East Coast Alice Waters.” 

Chef Noble, who also operates a Christian ministry called Restoration Word Ministries, was well-known in Charlotte; he is the founder of Noble’s Restaurant, Noble’s Grille, and Rooster’s Wood-fired Kitchen.

The King’s Kitchen in one sense is more of the same – New Southern Cuisine, from local organic sources as much as possible, cooked in healthy ways.

But the King’s Kitchen is also very different.  It declares right up front, “We’re here to fuel a city by feeding its people, one way or the other.”

Here’s what they say about the mission of the restaurant and ministry:

With the mandate from the Word of God to feed the poor, The King’s Kitchen concept is designed to help those in need in a variety of ways.  This is done by working together with businesses, ministries, non-profits and people of faith to employ, train and minister the gospel of Jesus Christ to troubled youth, rehab graduates, and other members of our community who are in need of employment.

We operate in the spirit of excellence by training, equipping, and sending out developed leaders into our community.  We employ a segment of our community that is considered unemployable, from people who have come out of prison and rehab, to youths that are at high risk from dropping out of school.  Once employed, they receive training to run a full service restaurant from the front of the house to the back.  They also receive leadership and spiritual training as well in order to gain the life skills that are necessary to be successful in today’s job market.  In this supportive environment, those once at risk for failure are posed for success.

Are you kidding me?  Here’s a man – a company – who invests in his city and in the Kingdom by training his future competition.

Here’s a man – a ministry – who knows up front that some of the people he hires won’t make it, and that all are, in the traditional sense of the word, a risk.  But he hires them anyway.

Here’s a man – a minister – who has already been crowned with many of the awards his industry has to offer, and for good reason.  But he pursues a different kind of crown without apology.

Here’s a man – a team player – who recognizes that he is not the last word or the last hope for anybody, and has bought into the vision of partnership for the Kingdom.

Designed to operate profitably, profits from The King’s Kitchen are used to help feed the hungry here in Charlotte, surrounding areas and other parts of the world.  We work with established feeding centers to provide funds and food so they may continue providing meals for those in need.

Sitting there, waiting on iced tea and reading over and over again the restaurant’s mission statement – “To Feed the Hungry & to Heal the Brokenhearted” – I was overcome with emotion. Had to take a trip to the little boys’ room just to keep from blubbering in front of Charity, our wonderful server.  (By the way, the iced tea?  Tasted just like my grandmother’s.  I have no idea why.)

The food?  Oh my.  Aunt Beaut was a beaut!  Collards, butter beans, pan seared cabbage?  A-mazing.  And you’ll just to ask Robin about the hot biscuits right out of the oven.

“So how’s the banana pudding?” I asked Charity, pressing my Southern Cuisine luck.

“It’s really good, sir,” she said.  We make our own vanilla custard, and our own vanilla wafers.”

“Seriously?  Who makes their own vanilla wafers?”

The King’s Kitchen, that’s who.

Oh.  My…. Amazing.  I think the next time I’m in Charlotte, I may just eat that first.

Jim Noble, along with his wife Karen and the King’s Kitchen team, are LifeVestors.   

They don’t just give – they invest.

They don’t just feed the hungry – they teach the hungry to feed others.

They don’t just heal the brokenhearted – they send the healed back into a brokenhearted world to make a difference.

They sure made a difference in my life… and I’m not just talking about adding to the chicken graveyard.

The next time you’re in Charlotte, take a drive to 129 West Trade Street.  Heck, fly or drive to Charlotte.  Eat – and invest in – the ministry of the King’s Kitchen.  Your appetite will thank you.  So will a band of grateful employees, each of whom has his or her story.

I think the Lord will be pleased, too.

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