By John Roy
How can we confront an issue like hunger?
Some are confronting it with pressure on their elected officials. Others are confronting it with education. And others are confronting it with brownies and parmesan chicken. To face big issues, we need a lot of hands. All who are courageous enough to do something are welcome.
This is a story about brownies and parmesan chicken.
In Greenville, S.C., one of the bright lights of serving the homeless is the Triune Mercy Center. On Sundays, the homeless gather for worship at the center, and after worship, lunch is served.
Our congregation serves this lunch on the second Sunday of the month. When I say serve, I’m not implying we pick up BBQ on the way to Triune, put on serving gloves and hand out bag lunches.
When I say serve, I mean several team members meet at our church and use our kitchen to cook the parmesan chicken, turkey and dressing, lasagna or grilled chicken. Others prepare at home asparagus casserole, green beans with new potatoes, and bring it to Triune.
Others bake brownies or cherry delight.
The team prepares the meal and then arrives Sunday morning with smiles and their Jesus attitude. The first time I went with one of the teams I was surprised that it felt more like a fellowship supper at church than it did a soup kitchen.
Maybe it was the brownies, but I suspect it may have more to do with the lady walking in between the tables, re-filling drinks and another of our team members who welcomed people to the table with “Friends, have a seat, take a rest, and receive God’s love and our chicken and rice.”
Hunger does not end in the stomach.
It is certainly felt there, but there are other empty places in the lives of men and women. There is the emptiness of being invisible, the emptiness of feeling unwanted and the emptiness of having nowhere to go.
When we started preparing and serving this meal for 140 people, it was easy to think all we were doing was temporarily delaying hunger. It turns out we were confronting isolation and hunger with God’s grace and love and potato salad.
When it comes to sharing God’s grace, there is no such thing as temporary.
See additional information below about the state of hunger in Greenville County, S.C., courtesy of Map the Meal Gap, a project of Feeding America. Check out statistics for your area with this interactive online tool.