Chickens Connect Strangers in a Message of Love

In the fall of 2021, the United States military withdrew from of Afghanistan.  Americans watched as desperate people clamored in and around the airport in Kabul. We saw pictures of planes taking off while people clung to them with the bleakest of hope.

That year, because of an already-established Afghan community, Muncie, Indiana, welcomed thirty-five refugee Afghan families and ultimately over 150 individuals into the Muncie community. Michael Sherman, pastor of Muncie Friends Church, his wife Kristen, and their four children were one of the earliest families to welcome and befriend an Afghan family as the refugees started to arrive. The family the Shermans sponsored consisted of a mom and dad and seven boys ranging in age from eighteen to six.  

On Memorial Day this year, Mike and Nancy McCormick from Wilmington Yearly Meeting had lunch with the Shermans and their Afghan family. Two-and-a-half years after arriving in Muncie, the family is expecting their eighth child. (No, much to his mother’s chagrin, the new baby will not be a girl, either.)  

After each of the seven previous births, one of the grandmothers prepared a chicken stew. Mom says, “It is the best stew that my mother would make for me to eat to promote health and recovery.” This newest boy will be their first child born in the United States. He will also be the first child born since the grandmother passed away. To honor the grandmother’s memory, and to connect this delivery with home and tradition, the family asked Kristen Sherman if the Shermans could find two live chickens with which to prepare the stew.

But on the eve of 4H fair season in Indiana, the Shermans discovered there weren’t many available chickens. Locally, in Muncie, it was a no-go. Last week, the Shermans joined about forty other pastors and ministers at Hueston Woods State Park, in Ohio, for the second Western, Wilmington, and New Association pastor’s retreat. That’s where Michael and Kristen met Mike and Nancy McCormick from Wilmington Yearly Meeting. Kristen reports, “Everyone told us if there was anyone who could find us some chickens it would be Nancy and Mike.

”Nancy’s texting fingers flew, and so it was that the McCormicks delivered, several days later, four live chickens to Muncie, Indiana, from the Wilmington, Ohio, area—chickens donated out of the goodness of their hearts by people wanting to bless and honor and encourage a family they had never met. Chickens who connected strangers in a message of love. Mike and Nancy McCormick gave their blessing, shared a meal, and encouraged a family from Afghanistan who are soon stepping into another something new, but this new thing will have a memorial chicken stew and a reminder of home and heritage and tradition.

— Michael Sherman

June 3, 2024