“If you don’t have any hope, you really don’t know what to do.”
Casually leaning on the podium as if having a conversation with friends, Jim Noble wasn’t aiming for earth shattering rounds of applause as he spoke to a group of nonprofit employees at the Billy Graham Library on Friday.
Those in his audience knew all about the late nights, the multiple hats, the heart and determination it takes to keep a donor-funded business running.
Sharing bits of his life, he instead wanted each person listening to be reminded of the need for their work and that it matters, especially for the hopeless.
Facing four miscarriages, a daughter born with a serious illness, and other unforeseen blows life can send your way—Noble and his wife Karen can relate to not having hope.
But then, “People began to bring hope to us and it changed [us],” he said.
A renowned chef turned pastor, Noble has dedicated his Charlotte restaurant, The King’s Kitchen, to offering others the help they need to keep going.
All profits from The King’s Kitchen feed the poor in the Charlotte area. The nonprofit also partners with the Dream Center and other ministries to offer job training, etiquette workshops, internships and other support for those starting fresh.
Ironically, the word restaurant comes from the French word restaurer, “which means to restore,” Noble said with a smile.
“I tell folks, I can feed you and in six hours, you’re going to be hungry again. If I stack money up beside you and start giving out $1,000 at a time … I’d soon run out and not be much help to you.
“But I do know something that will radically change your life.”
Noble pastors Restoring Place Church, which he holds at The King’s Kitchen. More often than not, his congregation doesn’t look like him—and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Many come in off the street, unfamiliar with God, church, joy or peace.
“If you want to have a harvest, you’re going to have a mess to clean up,” Noble said, referring to one of his favorite Scriptures in Proverbs 14.
“We sometimes think we haven’t done a good job on Sunday morning unless there are beer bottles, liquor bottles, clips and cigarette butts outside,” he said with a chuckle.
Finding a Need
Of the nearly 100 people who attended Friday’s appreciation breakfast and tour at the Billy Graham Library, Aida Martinez and Jill Adams know it was no accident they ended up sitting together.
Though they’d never met before, Jill so happens to work with Aida’s husband at the Charlotte Rescue Mission where she helps with fundraising
“God weaves us all together for His big plan,” Jill said. “It’s incredible how He does that.”
Jill’s been laid off twice, health issues caused her to lose insurance coverage, and at one point she found herself close to bankruptcy.
Jobless and struggling to stay optimistic, a friend recommended she volunteer. Jill chose the Charlotte Rescue Mission, which serves the homeless. She’s been there ever since.
Jill recalled another “coincidental” encounter with a young woman she met at work.
“She said she had gotten a job interview but didn’t have anything to wear,” Jill said. “In the trunk of my car, somebody had given me clothes—work clothes, suits for women, size 10. Guess what size that young lady wore.”
A size 10.
The woman went on to get the job and a local church helped her and her father find a home.
“Sometimes I feel I just have to be quiet and move out of His way!” Jill said of God’s divine providence.
Aida nodded in agreement.
“I cannot imagine doing this without Him,” she said. “It’s the Lord who puts that motivation inside you to help others.
“Out of my own strength, I recognize that I can do nothing.”
Aida’s nonprofit provides funding for education and small businesses, especially to Hispanic women. A Mexico native, she understands the struggles they face.
“These women came from other countries like I did,” she said. “They don’t know the language, how to adjust to this place. They are on their own.
“I saw the need [and this] is just my little part in helping.”
Doing something is what it’s all about, Noble reminded the group.
“Sometimes, if we wait for someone to call us to fill a need, it will never get fulfilled,” he explained. “I think the best thing you can do is—as you go through life—when you see a need, begin to fulfill it and God will begin to call you to do it and bring people around you who can help.”