Amy Vogelsang Pho to Retired Executive Director of Harvest Ministries, Pastor Rubie Rubinstein (left) passes the “Hoover vaccuum piece” baton to his successor, Pastor Mark Green (right).
Record Staff Writer
“Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for the rest of his life.” It is this philosophy that lead Pastor Rubie Rubinstein to end up under a bridge, handing food out to the homeless from the back of his pickup truck. But as the saying goes, it wasn’t just about providing food for the moment, but for helping people strive within the community.
This was how and why he started Harvest Ministries, and now, 10 years and eight months later, Rubinstein is passing the torch (or in this case a Hoover vacuum piece) to friend and former racetrack pastor, Mark Green.
“We prayed about it and talked about it (…) and it felt like the right thing to do,” Green said of his new position as executive director of the ministry. Although he has always been in ministry, this position gives him big shoes to fill, according to the praise Rubinstein received from members on the ministry’s board.
“I have always admired the gift that God placed on this man’s life,” said board member Perry Toles. But as Rubinstein put it, it’s more than having the gift of evangelism; it’s about having the heart of an evangelist. This is a trait that helped lead to choosing Green.
What started as a small endeavor from the back of a truck soon took off under the umbrella of Grace Community Church. Harvest Ministries, under Rubenstein’s direction and with the help of many volunteers, grew into something no one expected.
As it grew to start helping not only the homeless but also single parents, disabled and veterans, children and so many more people, they eventually secured an actual facility, complete with food distribution, showers and laundry for those who need it.
In 2012, they helped feed 25,000 people a month in Chaves, Lincoln and Eddie counties; 7,000 people came through the actual front doors that year. They handed out 435,000 pounds of food and are partnered with 20 other agencies such as Boys and Girls Club, the JOY Center and local churches.
But Harvest Ministries is not just about physical help, but also spiritual health.
“Our primary goal is to minister to the spirit (…) to share the Gospel with people,” Rubinstein said. They also set people up to find jobs and get houses, and in general try to allow people the opportunity to have a better life. They give out hope.
“If you’re living under a bridge, you don’t have a lot of hope,” Rubenstein explained. “So we try to restore some of (their) dignity.”
As Green steps up to the plate, taking over what he said is already an amazing ministry, he is “honored, privileged and thank(s) God” for the chance to continue helping those in the community.
“No matter what city you’re in,” Green said, quoting something he had once heard. “Pray for the peace of that city, because if they are at peace you will be at peace.”