For the homeless and food insecure in downtown Columbia, weekends can sometime be a challenge to find a free, nutritional meal.
Recently, the Methodist Student Network (Wesley Foundation) at University of South Carolina began a new effort. Having served in the Washington Street United Methodist Church Soup Cellar for many years and having gotten to know many of Columbia’s homeless people and the challenges they face, students began an every-several-weeks Saturday morning breakfast served outside the Soup Cellar in the church parking lot.
Students arrive at 6:30 a.m. on Saturdays to cook at the Campus Ministry Center, then transport the food and set up for the meal at 8 a.m. Pancakes, grits, sausage, fruit, coffee and hot chocolate are among the staples. (Students have especially learned to make a lot of coffee.)
Not only do the students offer food, but also a listening ear to hear about the challenges of being poor and marginalized. In return, breakfast attendees share a funny story or a joke. They offer appreciation and thanks as well, and students feel like they were ministered to.
The students who serve—who rarely struggle to find a good meal and almost always have a place to sleep—are served up a plate of humility and a course of attitude adjustment. As they say, the worries that seem to consume don’t seem quite the burden when they hear about someone else’s life’s struggles.
Christian service is a kind of evangelism that goes both ways.