Jesus was always concerned with the needs of the poor. He spent most of his time among them. He fed them… healed them. Even on the rare occasion when he was invited to a wealthy man’s house for a dinner party, his mind was never far from them, when he said, ‘(Next time) you give a banquet, invite the poor…and you will be blessed.’ (Luke 14:13)
Maybe that’s why it just seemed natural to spend the first day of my 30 day adventure at a place which sets out a banquet for the poor every day… Phoenix Rescue Mission. Some people call it a ‘soup kitchen’, but to hundreds of people with nowhere else to go it means so much more… food to eat, shelter from the cold & heat, respect and value from people who care.
So I spent the afternoon in the mission kitchen, working alongside the staff and other volunteers to make tonight’s dinner for the area’s homeless. As I cut up countless melons, etc., for a vat full of fruit salad, I prayed for those who would be eating it. I asked God to touch their lives that they might come to know Him and be lifted up out of the desperate circumstances that they had found themselves in.
As I was working away in my gloves and apron (as you might have guessed, I didn’t need a hair net) I got to talk to some of the other people who were volunteering in the kitchen, including a man named Jeff. Jeff has volunteered there at the mission for a few years now and he said that it has been one of the greatest experiences of his life. When I asked him, ‘How did you get started serving here?’ He said, ‘I started coming here because I was homeless. I came because I needed food and a place to stay. The people here reached out to me and took care of me. And as I hit bottom, I turned to the Lord and he saved me. Now I’ve got a full-time job and a home, but I keep serving here all the time because there is nothing better I can do with my time than help other people who are stuck where I was!’ I was moved by Jeff’s story and by the transforming power of Christ’s love in his life.
As we finished getting dinner ready, I asked one of the staff members, ‘What’s the biggest need that the mission is facing right now?’ And she said, ‘Volunteers. Because of the economy, all of our kitchen staff got laid off except for 2 of us. That means we desperately need volunteers to sign-up every day and come help us make the hundreds of meals needed for the area’s homeless.’
And so there it was… I was praying that God would reveal needs that he could use me and others to meet… and now here was a big need placed right in front of me. So I’m committing to going back regularly to serve, but they need a lot more people. Would you pray about joining me and serving at Phoenix Rescue Mission? Just let me know, and I can help you get started. If you are reading this from outside the Phoenix area, would you find a local soup kitchen/food bank and volunteer? We can be sure, that as we lay out banquets for the poor in Jesus name, there will be many more ‘Jeff’s’ out there will be able to experience Christ’s transforming love through us!
To find out more about Phoenix Rescue Mission, check out www.phoenixrescuemission.org