Soup Kitchen Provides Warm, Delicious Ministry
“Oh, no,” sighs John Weston as he pulls the crusty garlic bread from the oven. He slices the bread, quickly dumps it into the basket and sets it on the serving table. He rushes to get the salad dressings and other items on the table. Then he sprints to the literature box and hastily sets out tracts and pamphlets.
“Gather ’round, everyone,” he says to his volunteers. “It’s time for prayer. People are lining up outside.”
This three-year-old ministry started as an outgrowth of the weekly fellowship dinners on Sabbath. Weston and his wife, Dianne, loved cooking and saw the fellowship dinner as a means of getting to know people and treat each one with love, respect and dignity, no matter what they look like. Dianne, being gregarious, would throw her arms around the most gruff, tattered and sometimes smelly people who came to the fellowship dinner (aka potluck) and just love on them. John Weston was right behind her with the same feelings. They believed in this ministry where people could socialize and get to know one another better, and they desired the same experience for people on the street or anyone who would come to enjoy a meal.
Unknown to them another man in our church had the same dream, Larry Sample, the Dorcas leader. They teamed up in 2012, and the Soup Kitchen was born. They decided on soup, salad, bread, drink and dessert. They tried serving on Thursday nights for two years, but the ministry struggled.
John sought the Lord’s counsel and was shown that he needed to change the day to Tuesdays, as Dorcas is open for people to get food and clothing. Since Dorcas closes from 11:30–12:30 for volunteers to eat lunch (at the Soup Kitchen, of course), the waiting people started coming and socializing with the Dorcas volunteers. John's prayer was answered, and the change was a hit.
In December 2014, Dianne lost her battle with cancer. Although John’s heart was crushed, he loved the ministry and determined to continue on his own. He wanted anyone and everyone, rich or poor, to come for a free meal and also find spiritual food. He wanted everyone who came to feel that they were equal with everyone else. He hoped that one day people would come to the Soup Kitchen who weren’t there for Dorcas, but only for the meal and fellowship. And that is exactly what happened. The “clientele” has increased, as more and more people are learning about the Soup Kitchen. The number served has varied lately from about 50 to more than 70.
One lady, who has come regularly to the Soup Kitchen, is now studying to be baptized. Who would have thought that a soup kitchen could reach people with the love of Jesus? John, Dianne and Larry, that’s who.
John now has regular assistants who help him: Ginny Frost, Sydney Purser, Gloria Wilson and Warren Williams. Much of the food is provided by the local food bank (which Sample picks up) with items like lettuce, greens and tomatoes, plus other salads, fruit, garlic bread and desserts of various kinds. Lately, the food bank has also provided some drinks. John provides the soup, preparing it at home and bringing it in slow cookers. The church picks up the tab for hot drinks in winter and cold ones in the summer. It also provide the supplies and crackers.
“Hey, John, this soup is the best ever” is heard consecutive weeks by regulars. They love his cooking, and some love giving and receiving hugs from him as he socializes with them. All are appreciative, and many come to the serving windows and say thank you for the delicious food.
What a blessing it is to be involved in the Soup Kitchen, a simple yet powerful ministry.