Young Life Lite

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Costco rotisserie chickens (or just “CRC” among fans) are the gold standard at Costco warehouses across the United States. The chickens are priced at a cheap (cheep) $4.99 nationwide, which explains how they roast, wrap and retail 60 million of them a year. The birds are so popular they have their own Facebook page with 2,857 “likes” at last count. That number grew by dozens after the 2013 Desert Cities (California) Young Life Round Up held at the home of Gerianne and Bill Wolfs where the CRCs became MVPs.

The Wolfs were expecting 240 guests for a barbecue dinner at 7:00 that Tuesday. At 4:30 p.m., Area Director Kevin Sleeper began praying over the tables set in the Wolfs’ backyard when, he said, “I had the distinct impression that the caterer wasn’t going to make it and that it would be OK.” At 5:00 p.m., with the caterer still a no show, Gerianne and Kevin contacted their committee chairperson, Greg Gritters, who conveyed the good and bad news. Good news: The caterer had the date. The bad? It was from last year’s contract. 

Committee member Elaine Lovelace recalled, “When we arrived at the Wolfs’ home an hour before the banquet, Kevin met me at the door and calmly told me that there had been a miscommunication with the caterer. ‘Start praying.’ So, I went out in the backyard. All the tables, chairs and lights were set up and ready to go, but there was no barbecue food anywhere.”

Minutes before, Kevin had gathered a group of staff and volunteers for prayer and deployment. Some of them would remain to greet guests. Kevin would prepare the kitchen and grill. Gerianne, Gritters and his wife, and a few others were dispatched in two directions to local Costcos to buy 60 rotisserie chickens and enough sausages, potato salad, beans, rolls, dessert and paper products to serve 240 guests — which they would do an hour later. 

Gerianne said she felt like she was on an episode of Supermarket Sweep racing through Costco. Without an advance order, Costco limits shoppers to 10 chickens, so the two groups spilt further to gather up 10 birds apiece. An agitated woman followed Gerianne down an aisle asking for just one chicken to feed her family. Over her shoulder Gerianne apologized, “I have 240 people arriving at my home for dinner in 40 minutes.” The woman gave up the chase. No harm. No fowl.  

By the time the shoppers had returned to the Wolfs’, guests had been welcomed and seated. In no time, sausages and beans were warmed, chickens were quartered, and dinner was plated. One plate at a time, area kids served the waiting guests. Dinner had been delayed by only 15 minutes. No one noticed.

“What the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good!” said Lovelace. “The kids served all 240 guests with smiles and people were so impressed by them and the food. It could not have been a better evening.” 

Later that night, the committee, leaders and staff celebrated the results of its most successful banquet to date, doubling the total of new gifts and pledges raised the year before. What could have been egg on the area’s face instead become its golden opportunity — evidence of God’s faithfulness and the answer to the age-old question: The (Costco) chicken came first.