Harvesting Hope with the Shour Family

Several years ago, Mark and DeDe Shour went on a missions trip that started with a time of training in California and continued with two months spent in Samoa. They were forever changed by the hurting people they met, the great need they encountered, and even the hunger they experienced personally.

“There were nights in Samoa when we went to bed with our stomach’s growling,” DeDe remembers, “and that gave us a heart for people who are hungry.”

They came home with a desire to serve . . . and to feed hungry, hurting hearts right here in Iowa.

One of many ways they’re doing just that—in addition to being financial donors and leading chapel at our men’s shelter—is by cultivating two large Hope Ministries gardens at their rural home. They’re growing some of our most-needed items—peppers, onions, tomatoes, cabbage and squash.

And it hasn’t been a solo effort! A close friend, Mark Lohafer of Ames, puts in many hours during the season, from set up to planting to weeding to watering to harvesting to fall tear-down. Mr. Lohafer even brought a couple of neighbors, Diane and Julie, out to this farm to help harvest produce. And the Shours’ youngest daughter, Hannah, and granddaughter, Addison, of Ankeny, help every year with planting the seeds and seedlings and various other garden chores. Friends from church have also helped during 2021. “It is definitely a team effort,” says Mark.

Case manager Pat Barnes and a couple of men from our life recovery program recently helped harvest produce at the Shours’ gardens.

They even had some help recently from a few men in Hope Ministries’ life recovery center who were able to visit their property and pick produce.

Of course, the venture hasn’t been without its challenges. One year they were flooded out. In 2020, the derecho caused damage around their property. “There’s times when it’s a struggle, but every time, the Lord helps us break the work to be done into bite-size pieces so progress can be made,” Mark says.

Mark and DeDe travel to Des Moines as often as needed to deliver their donations of fresh produce. Our food services supervisor, Louis, and our cooks look forward to incorporating veggies in the hundreds of free meals we serve every day. And anything we can’t use immediately is given away on our community table in Hope Café.

“I’m profusely thankful to Mark and DeDe Shour for employing their time, talent and treasure for the benefit of Hope Ministries in general and our feeding program in particular,” Louis says. “The plot of land which they garden exclusively for us has yielded hundreds of pounds of fresh produce which we use daily in Hope Café to feed those who are homeless, hungry, abused or addicted. Kudos to this amazing couple and their servant hearts.”

The Shours said they hope others are inspired to consider how they can get involved in feeding and caring for hungry, hurting people in Iowa.

“We’d encourage anyone to do this—whether it’s an extra row or a whole extra garden,” Mark says. “We’re not expert gardeners. We’re just normal people who had a heart to serve and to feed people.”

And if you’re not a gardener, they noted, you can pray, volunteer, give financially, and give back in other ways.

Fresh produce from the Shour gardens ready to be eaten at Hope Cafe.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as listening to someone, asking ‘What’s your story?’ or writing a note of encouragement to someone in recovery,” DeDe says. “And prayer is huge and powerful.”

“We’re on this earth for a purpose,” Mark added. “We’re here to serve. Every one of us has something to give and a way that we’re called to serve. It’s a matter of praying and asking God, ‘What do you have for me? How can I serve today?’”

We’re so thankful to Mark and DeDe for turning their servant hearts toward Hope Ministries and the hungry men, women and children coming to us every day for meals. You can help “harvest hope,” too! Donations of fresh produce are always welcome at our Hope Café (1310 6th Avenue).

“The way we see it,” DeDe says, “this land isn’t ours. It’s God’s. We just feel so blessed, and it’s a joy to be able to use what He’s given us to help others.”

You can help “harvest hope” too! Donations of produce can be delivered to our Bethel Mission/Hope Cafe at 1310 6th Avenue in Des Moines. Thank you so much!