Last Updated on Monday, 07 March 2011 23:06 Monday, 07 March 2011 23:00
In San Diego, homeless guests at the Wednesday and Thursday night meals are receiving more than just a hot, nutritious meal—they are experiencing the fullness of Christ’s love in the volunteers who are serving and ministering to them.
“Many are amazed by us serving as they have never heard of the Orthodox Church,” Ryan Alex, FOCUS San Diego Director, said. “They want to learn more about us and who we are.”
Alex said that the guests they serve appreciate the meal, but they really are grateful that the FOCUS SD volunteers will sit with them.
“Some groups seem like they are trying to do their good work and leave,” Alex said. “We care about who they are.”
FOCUS SD partners with God’s Extended Hand, a homeless mission near downtown San Diego, for use of its facilities for its weekly Wednesday night meals and monthly Thursday night meal.
Part of the outreach of God’s Extended Hand is to provide a Gospel message and prayer in addition to its free nightly meals for the homeless. Local Orthodox clergy are using the opportunity to share the love of Christ and the rich Scripture and Tradition of the Orthodox faith on the nights when FOCUS SD is serving.
Alex said that recently an Orthodox priest shared with the group about a certain saint’s life and martyrdom.
“That night I had several people coming up to me asking questions about the saints,” Alex said. “They wanted to learn more about the lives of the saints because they had never heard stories like that before.”
Alex said the spirit of the place was different that night. People’s hearts were open and Alex said he felt as if the saints were really present with them there.
Recent reports from the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty showed a 26% increase in the need for food assistance. Although we realize a hot nutritious meal is only the first step in meeting the urgent needs of the poor in our communities, it is our hope that through these free community meals we can foster friendships that lead people to opportunities for further steps towards life recovery.
FOCUS SD is preparing to grow its services to meet the pressing needs of those we serve. You can help support FOCUS North America and its FOCUS centers by clicking here to give a gift online or be becoming a monthly supporter.