In 2017, Calvin Christian School will share a blog from a local pastor every month. For the month of February, we share a post titled "Feed the Hungry" from Pastor Scott Gary of Grace Lutheran Church.
Grace Lutheran Church has graciously been asked to contribute to the Calvin Christian blog postings. What a privilege this is, and it testifies to the Body of Christ working together!
Our church is currently reaching out to the homeless community in both Escondido and downtown San Diego. Our Escondido outreach is with Escondido North County Interfaith’s Haven House Shelter. This shelter is the only year-round shelter in Escondido. The residents there are all in programs with an Interfaith caseworker. These caseworkers assist with whatever needs that they may have with an end -goal of helping them get jobs, homes and to become self-sufficient. We serve dinner to these residents once a month.
Our Grace team consists of about 25 people out of which a team of 10 or so will be one hand to serve on those evenings. The number of residents can vary, but typically we serve around 40. The meals are planned, shopped for, and cooked by the team and they are very good meals! We serve the residents at their tables, waiting on them. While we can open the night with prayer, and we are free to build relationships with them individually, we are restricted from preaching the gospel or organized bible study. We have, however, shared the gospel with these people when the opportunity arises and have had several of them join us for worship at our church. We always end the night with a few games of bingo with $10 gift card prizes. They love bingo!
The outreach in San Diego is entirely different. We partner with a nonprofit called Friends & Family Community Connection and serve once a month at the Salvation Army facility downtown. This outreach serves dinner to anywhere from 60-120 homeless guests. Most of these people are living on the streets and some are in desperate condition. The meals are prepared by a consistent group from our team in the kitchen at the Salvation Army. As with the Escondido outreach, these guests are served at their tables and waited on by volunteers. We can present the gospel to this group and it is welcomed and embraced by many, treating with indifference by others. We pray for its effectiveness for all. The guests can receive clothing, shoes, blankets, and care packages as they leave.
Work in these areas is very rewarding. We wonder sometimes what difference we might make in someone’s life over a couple of hours. But just to lend an ear and an encouraging word makes a huge difference in the lives of these people, it is a gift to them. They spend most of their time on the margins of society either ignored or pushed away. It is not for us to ask why and how they got to be homeless. The point is to love them as Christ loved us first. We find that when we take a few minutes on an outreach night we also receive gifts from our guests.