SENT is part of a new weekly series telling stories of people at Pulpit Rock living missionally in their unique contexts. We believe that all of us have been SENT into our neighborhoods, workplaces and city. Our hope is that you are encouraged and inspired to lean into the places God has called you. And then we’d like to tell your story. Because we know that the story of God’s people is the story of God. If you have a story you would like to share with us send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are part of a team that regularly serves meals at the Salvation Army Shelter. Tell us about that.
[Brenda White] It is a joy to serve meals at the Salvation Army. We divide the food that needs to be prepared among the families in our small group (we each have our specialty). We also do sign-ups for who can serve the meal that month, we usually have more than we need but the more the merrier. We arrive a half hour before mealtime to set up the food and make trays for people who will be late to dinner. Then we each go to our serving stations and the women, children, and families come through first. Due to limited seating space, the men wait until the women are finished to eat. Finally we serve seconds if there is food left over (God always seems to make the food go farther than we think it will go). I like to walk around talking to the people at the shelter if I’m not needed in the serving line. The people staying at the shelter do the clean-up jobs, so we are good to go once the meals are served.
[Jessica Zaiger] My family and I have been serving at the shelter for about 5 years, and it has been a blessing to us. We split up the necessary food within our group in order to serve around 200 residents. Each of us bring a main dish for 25-30 as well as a side item. We don’t all serve each month, as there is only room for 8-10 volunteers to serve. Providing food and serving one evening per month is a small commitment but it has been a wonderful service activity for all of us, including my kids. This small commitment on our part has meant so much to the homeless residents of the Salvation Army!
How or why did you get started serving this way?
[Brenda White] Our small group wanted to find a way to serve, and providing a meal for Salvation Army fit perfectly. We are able to bring our families, children included, to serve and grow together. We have enjoyed doing this for over ten years.
[Jessica Zaiger] We wanted to get more involved in serving our community, and were especially interested in something we could do as a family. We heard during service one Sunday that volunteers were needed, so we came once to see how it all works. Immediately, we knew this was a service activity we wanted to be involved in!
[Natalie Shellhouse] I wanted a chance to serve the community and get to know people from PRC. I volunteered for over 20 years with Family Promise in Houston and enjoyed serving the homeless community so being part of a team serving dinner appealed to me.
What is a neat moment or cool story from one of the times you’ve served?
[Brenda White] One of the women asked for a ride to church. The following week, she had a friend to go to church with her. The next week, I had a car full of women wanting to worship God at Pulpit Rock. These dear ladies came to church for the entire time they were at the shelter. We started going out to lunch after church each Sunday. They shared their lives with me and became friends who I know I will see again in eternity!
[Jessica Zaiger] Every time we serve, many of the residents express their gratitude and appreciation which is nice to hear. One time, a resident said to me, “You look at me and treat me like I matter.” That was so profound.
[Natalie Shellhouse] We were serving our normal meal and our leader decorated the table with Christmas décor and a nativity scene. We also had socks for all the guests as a Christmas gift from our team. Faye Palmer played Christmas carols on her violin when one of the guests joined her and sang Silent Night as she played. They were very sweet and applauded Faye frequently as she played. We were thanked over and over for the dinner and the socks.
Anything you have learned or been surprised by as you have stepped out to serve our city’s homeless?
[Brenda White] We are always touched by the graciousness of the people we are there to serve. They are very vocal in their appreciation of the meal and our help. Because we bring our entire families to serve, barriers are broken down and the people feel at home with us. People share their stories and are open to us praying for them.
[Jessica Zaiger] Our kids were surprised to see that other children just like them are homeless. I don’t think they expected to see young kids at the shelter and they were taken aback and immediately felt such empathy for them.
[Natalie Shellhouse] I’ve been disappointed that so many people in the community have a hateful attitude towards the homeless community.
What else would you want us to know about this ministry?
[Brenda White] I always come away from a Saturday meal at the Salvation Army feeling blessed; blessed to have encountered precious people whom God loves dearly, blessed to have enjoyed serving with my small group family, blessed to remember how much God has done in my life.
[Jessica Zaiger] I think sometimes it sounds a little daunting to bring a prepared entrée for 25-30 people. It really is not as overwhelming as it may sound. I’m not a great cook so I usually do a pasta dish/lasagna, corn dogs, fried chicken, etc.
[Natalie Shellhouse] I’ve only been volunteering in this ministry for a couple of years, there are people on the team who have been doing this for decades! They are very loyal and dedicated members of PRC and I think it would be nice to take a moment and spotlight them on a Sunday morning. I hear a lot of other ministries mentioned but not this one.