While be-bopping down to the kitchen the other day, I beheld one of our regulars coming in for lunch. Confidentiality prohibits me from sharing her name, but she’s a very outgoing lady and on this particular day she wanted a hug from none other than me.
Allow me to confess two things. First, I’m not particularly the hugging type. Two, this lady is HIV positive. Combine those two concepts and you get the picture. I wasn’t exactly charging across the kitchen to give her that hug.
Now you’re probably thinking “well Rex, Jesus would have hugged her.” Jesus might well have healed her too, but I’m not Jesus. However, I didn’t have time to think it through, so I gave her a big hello and an appropriate sideways hug.
This incident points to both an opportunity and a challenge in our kitchen. We get slammed at lunch with about 150 people in a 30-minute window. How our kitchen crew pulls this off is a major logistical feat. But we are also a Christian ministry. How do you do ministry amidst the organized chaos?
We provide consistently good meals. This summer we’ve doubled up on bottled water to keep folks hydrated. Frankly, our lunch crowd is coming to eat, not to hear a sermon. I get that. When I go to church I expect and want to hear a sermon. When I go to a restaurant, I expect and want to eat a meal. I don’t usually mix the two unless I’m attending a prayer breakfast or lunch.
Serving meals is a tangible way to express the love of Jesus to people in need. It also opens doors to the heart. We’ve seen many lives changed at Gateway Rescue Mission when someone first showed up for a meal.
The Bible consistently tells us to feed the hungry. “And if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday.” Isaiah 58:10.
Therefore feeding 150-200 people each day at lunch is entirely biblical. Yet sometimes, a person wants more. The hungry lady wants a hug. The nameless man wolfing down his food wishes someone would remember his birthday. With the high numbers coming through our doors at lunch, it’s almost impossible with limited staff to know everyone by name.
That’s why we are contemplating launching a lunchtime prayer ministry. To make this happen, we need the assistance of volunteers to pray with anyone seeking prayer during our lunchtime meal. So, if you are the type of person looking for an opportunity for hands-on Christian ministry right here at home, we’d love to talk with you.
We’ve had a great response in recent years from people serving lunch in our kitchen. Now, it’s time to go to the proverbial next ministry level. We’re not looking for everybody. We’re looking for that one person or small group feeling God’s call to be Jesus to people in need; someone willing to intercede before God’s throne in prayer for a hurting person.
If this stirs your heart, reach out to us. You can call either me or Rusty Ryan, our Volunteer Coordinator at 601-353-5864. You can also reach us by email at info@ gatewaymission.org. Put Volunteer Prayer Ministry in the email subject line.
For those engaging in this ministry, two things will happen. The person you pray for will know someone cares, therefore they will know God cares. Also, your heart will be forever changed as you follow Christ in obedience to pray for others.