ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
At the end of the service, the prophet at the revival meeting told her to stand up.
“Jesse said he had a word from the Lord for me,” said Robin Dicks of Marion, referring to prophet Jesse Bielby, pastor of Word Ministries World Wide in Benton.
“Basically, what I got out of the whole thing, along with some other information, was that I would be opening a storehouse that would be giving away clothing, food and cars.
“And, of course, I went, ‘Sure, like I don’t have enough to do already,'” a response of awe at the task proposed in mid September.
But three weeks later, Dicks opened the doors of The Shepherd’s Shed, a free-clothing storehouse that offers all sizes of clothes.
The Shepherd’s Shed is located in a small building at 708 N. Cedar in Marion and is open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Dicks admits she was not looking to add anything more to her hectic personal schedule when she attended the revival meeting.
“I home school my children, so that’s my main job,” Dicks said. “I’m an instructor for Creative Memories, and I also teach sign language part time for Butler County Community College.”
Her family includes husband John and children, Olivia, 11, Madison, 8, and Wesley, 5.
They attend Good News Christian Fellowship in Marion, one of several community churches participating in a city-wide revival that began meeting Aug. 4 at Eastmoor United Methodist Church in Marion.
The pastors at the revival include Bielby, Don Matison of Life Builders and Children’s Feeding Network of Republic, Mo., and Kevin Goodwin of The Word of Life Outreach Worship Center of Great Bend.
After hearing her prophecy, Dicks said she thought about it and prayed until a week passed. That’s when she received a phone call from a friend at St. Luke Living Center in Marion.
“She had a gal there who had a foster baby who needed clothes right now, right then,” Dicks said.
“And I just happened to have those. So that got me thinking, ‘Well, maybe I am supposed to do this.'”
As a mother of three children, she had an ample supply of hand-me-down clothes stored in her garage.
“So (my friend) called me and that kind of got this started,” Dicks said. “Because I was able to bless that family with clothing. Then, she called me again and said, ‘I have a lady at work who has clothes she wants to donate.’
“And I said, ‘OK, here we go.'”
Everyone on Dicks’ e-mail list soon received an urgent message from her.
“I said, ‘This is what I’m doing. I don’t know how. I don’t know where. But I’ve decided to go forth and be obedient to God and do it.'”
At the next revival meeting, Dicks stood up and announced her plans to start a storehouse in her garage until another place was provided.
A week after the e-mail appeal, a generous friend contacted her and offered the use of a building on North Cedar at no charge.
“So we signed a rental agreement, but it just had zero dollars and zero deposit,” Dicks said. “We have a six-month contract right now. We’ll just renew it as it goes.”
The building contains a bathroom, and the water bill will be paid by another magnanimous donor in Marion.
“The electric (bill) has been paid by someone who’s been coming to the revival,” Dicks said. “They’re a Hillsboro resident, and they go to my church. They paid about two to three months on it.”
Although the wallpaper and flooring were in place when she walked into the building, Dicks needed to find display tables, clothing racks and hangers. She already had the long folding tables-they were stored in her garage-and a friend donated sheets to cover them.
“That was Joy Vogel,” Dicks said. “She’s been a help from the very beginning, and she’s down here with me all the time. She’s a good friend of mine.”
The clothing racks were donated by The County Seat Decorating Center in Marion.
“And, of course, the clothes have just come in mass amounts,” Dicks said. “It’s been wonderful. Really good clothing has been donated.”
After moving in on a weekend, Dicks opened the storehouse the following Wednesday, the first of October.
The brightly lit interior includes tables and racks of clothing separated by size and gender for infants through adults. Casual clothes, coats, jackets, jeans, dress clothes and even shoes are easy to find.
After a visitor is welcomed into the store, they are given a shopping bag, told what clothing is available and where it is located.
No questions are asked about need, and income restrictions do not exist. Not limited to taking a certain amount of free clothing, visitors are given another shopping bag if one is filled.
And if those visitors don’t find what they’re looking for, Dicks said she will take their name and call them when she locates the item.
No mention is made of payment for the clothing, but she keeps a coffee can by the front door if guests want to make a free-will donation.
And she will also accept financial donations at any time from the community and surrounding areas for future electric bills and supplies. But she and her volunteers receive no pay for their time and efforts.
All used clothes have been pre-washed by friends and church members before they’re placed in the store. Volunteers have also come forward to help at the storehouse.
“But I’m always looking for more volunteers,” Dicks said.
Members of community and civic organizations, such as Heartland Share and volunteer groups at Tabor College, could donate their time to the storehouse, Dicks suggested.
Asked the origin of the name The Shepherd’s Shed, Dicks said the inspiration came from her Bible.
“I had the ‘shed’ in mind because from the outside, the building kind of looks like a shed,” Dicks said.
“I just started flipping through the Bible and went from back to front. At the front I saw ‘shepherd and said, ‘That would be a great name, because it’s the Lord providing for everybody, and it’s a shed.'”
By the third week, several families and individuals had come through her door in need of clothing.
“Last week, we didn’t really have men’s clothing, but today we have a lot,” Dicks said. “I had a man come in today, and he just happened to find his exact size in brand-new Wrangler jeans. He seemed to be pretty excited about that.”
The need for donated items will be an on-going project at The Shepherd’s Shed, so Dicks is putting an all-points-bulletin out to area communities for clothing donations, detergent and sewing notions.
Items can be brought to the storehouse Wednesday afternoons or dropped off at her home through the rest of the week.
“If I’m not open, if it’s not between noon to 4 p.m., they can drop it off at my garage,” Dicks said. “But, I would rather they call me first at 620-382-2643.”
Although her prophecy included giving away food and cars, Dicks said in her current location, she is concentrating on supplying clothing to those in need.
“So I guess if God wants to provide me with a bigger building, then I’ll explore that (other) option,” she said.
Her main goal is to help those in need, but Dicks said that’s not her only goal.
“My ultimate goal is to bring people to know God,” she said.
“I’m in the process of thinking how I can offer that, maybe by them filling out a card saying, ‘Yes, I’d like to talk about that and need more assistance,’ or ‘No, I don’t.’ But that’s not something I’m going to push.”
Although she is fulfilling her prophecy, Dicks said it has been a valuable stewardship lesson for her children, who along with their father, have helped where needed.
“He’s been really supportive,” she said of John. “And I think it’s great that my children are able to help with this.”
But one question remains. Why has this happened in her life?
“I guess it’s probably an obedience thing-another thing that God was seeing if I’d be obedient or not,” Dicks said.
“It blesses me to see people come in and get what they need. But I didn’t do this for a blessing for me. The main thing I’m here for is for people to get the clothing they need.”