Taking a different look at poverty

Mark Geissler the Program Manager for the Horizon's Soup Kitchen.

In February, a group of people from LifePoint Bible Church in Quincy took a mission trip to Calcutta India.

One of those people was Mark Geissler the Program Manager for the Horizon's Soup Kitchen .

Mark says the trip gave him a unique opportunity to see a different side of poverty and to compare the work that Horizon's does with the efforts to feed thousands in India on a daily basis.

It was, to say the least, a life changing experience for him.

Serving the community

Mark Geissler says that long before the sun rises, 30, 100 gallon pots are boiling water for rice to feed the needy in Calcutta, India .

"You're thinking how on earth are these ever gonna get emptied there's so much food in there," Geissler said. "But before you know it having been through that feeding station, having scooped out that rice and given it, one of those pots, it seems, like in a matter of seconds is gone."

People from all over the region come to feeding stations to get what, for some, is the only meal they will eat for the day.

"I got a real taste of what was going on when there was an older man, who that plate of food we had just given, that curried rice, he had set set it out. His chickens, six, seven chickens were eating from that food. Then after having let them eat just for a minute or so, he took the plate in, put it on a table and then his family began to eat off of it. That plate is everything to them because that is their breakfast, that is their supper, that is their dinner. That is what feeds their livestock, their chickens sometimes their goats. It really means absolutely everything to them," he said.

Mark says that many of people who prepare and then serve the food have come from poverty themselves.

"And when you go and ask them why they're so happy they say it's because, "I was there once, I was that person begging for a meal. And now I get to be the person that helps them out." I have been given grace to come out of this situation and now I get to be the one to help them out and I can't wait to do it. Because I know how much it meant to me," Geissler said.

Besides serving at feeding stations, the group also shared their faith with people they met.

He says, "They were very receptive especially once we started giving them the gospel. That is something that some have just never heard of before. Here in America I don't think you'll find anybody who probably hasn't heard of the gospel. In India that's different."

Months later Mark says that he is still talking about and processing the experience.

"I look down at what I have and I know that my kitchen knife costs more than the hundred pounds of rice that they used to feed so many people," Geissler said. "And I am just humbled beyond belief. And I'm reminded that I need to just sometimes shut up and be thankful."

Feeling the full impact

In February, Mark Geissler, took a missions trip with LifePoint Bible Church to Calcutta, India.

While there he had the chance to work with a similar program in Calcutta that feeds thousands each day.

Five days a week Mark Geissler serves the Quincy community as the Program Manager of the Horizons Soup Kitchen. Everyday he sees the life changing effects of poverty up close. But his February mission trip to India gave him a new perspective

"Obviously the rate of poverty is much higher. As well as it really is life or death for most people outside the U.S. when it comes to their poverty and when it comes to sustainable feeding," Geissler said.

If they don't have a meal everyday because they've missed so many, sometimes it can spell an opportunity for disease to come in or it can spell death for someone or their family.

Mark says it took a while for the full impact of his experience to hit him.

"Having seen that, still fresh in my memory, still having the smells and just the recollections of it and then sitting down in my own house. I have a kitchen that is well stocked. My refrigerator is full. I have a pantry full of things," Geissler said. "They don't have the benefit of a fridge. They hardly have the benefit of a shelf to have anything on. It is quite humbling."

He says the experience has given him a sense of urgency ... in the way he serves the nearly 100 people that come through the doors of Horizons everyday.

"It has showed me that I really need to give grace to some of the people because of the lack of understanding. Giving them that grace, giving them that time to relax, to get comfortable. To gain their trust has become much more vital," he said.

And in the way he shares his faith with them.

"It has shown me again the urgency by which I spread the gospel to people," Geissler explained. "Because again, knowing now that we're not guaranteed a moment even past this at all, they need to know, they need to hear the gospel. They need to hear about Jesus."

Mark may only be 25-years-old, but his experience in India has given him wisdom and humility beyond his years.

"I won't ever claim that I've got all the life experiences necessary at times to give them understanding and a shoulder to cry on and those things and a good thing to hear, but I can be an ear. I don't have to be an ear that talks back. I can just be an ear and listen to people and you'd be amazed how far that takes people and how that really uplifts them," Geissler said.

Mark says one of the big differences between poverty in India and here at home is that people in the U.S. tend be ashamed about asking for help. But in India, where the poverty is so wide spread, there is no shame in asking for helping hand.