Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Grace Outlet Offers “Lunches for Jesus”

Grace Outlet Offers “Lunches for Jesus”
By Tamyra Horst

When Kris Eckenroth, pastor of the Grace Outlet church in Reading, preached a sermon on Matthew 5, Jesus’ words convicted his heart. “Jesus says that when we feed the hungry, it is as if we are literally feeding Him,” he explains. “It was a simple, yet intentional way to interact with Jesus and people.” He took Jesus’ words literally and began taking a couple of sack lunches with him Sabbath afternoons into downtown Reading to connect with people and feed them after church.

One Sabbath he held up one of the sack lunches and invited people to join him. The following Sabbath he took five lunches and three volunteers. Lunches for Jesus began. Now each week, members of Grace Outlet pack lunches for the homeless and bring them to church.

Grace Outlet members distribute clothes to people in the community Grace Outlet members distribute clothes to people in the community.

Kathy Ludwig and Bonnie Doll, two regular volunteers, recently approached a man in a wheelchair and asked if he was hungry. “I’m starving,” he responded. They handed him one of the lunches. Each week they find him on Penn Street and offer him a lunch. “Each time we are able to connect with him his face lights up and we feel blessed,” shares Ludwig. “We were told about a woman in a motorized wheelchair who has been living on Penn Street for six months. We were able to connect with her and share our lunches with her as well.”

Lunches for Jesus is simple. It includes finding hungry people, giving them a lunch, offering to pray with them and then heading home. But, once a month, on Grace Outlet’s Jeans Sabbath, the ministry grows to more than 20 people handing out lunches, soups, clothes and more. It’s a day to not only worship by attending church, but to worship through service. “We want people to come to church prepared to ‘get dirty’ for Jesus by getting involved in ministry to our community,” explains Pastor Eckenroth. “We believe that once people get involved and get a taste for serving people, church as they know it will never be the same,” he says.

Jeff and Sonya Johnson make balloon animals for children in the community. Jeff and Sonya Johnson make balloon animals for children in the community.

People now look for the red shirts on Sabbath afternoons. “We have made a lot of friends! We know lots of people by name and they know us,” shares Eckenroth, who is excited about how God is growing this simple ministry. “Many look forward to their lunch from us on Sabbath. There’s lots of praying with people. And, we get to see Jesus every week!”

Photo credits: Amy Newman

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