This summer, Grace Polaris Church (Mike Yoder, lead pastor) a Grace Brethren Church in Westerville, Ohio, decided to team up with The Westerville Area Resource Ministry to bring a spark of hope to a struggling community on the north side of Columbus.
“A high percentage of the kids [in our community] are on assisted lunches during the school year,” said Dustin Speaks, local witness and mobilization pastor at Grace Polaris. The Westerville Area Resource Ministry is a faith-based food pantry in existence since 1972, and serves free lunches to kids in low income communities on weekdays during the summer. This year, Grace Polaris decided to join them.
“We set up a tent in the middle of a park and invite kids age 1-18 to come and have a free lunch,” said Speaks. “While they are hanging around, we play games with them and spend time with them. So we have the opportunity to pour into their lives a little bit, and to have some spiritual input into their lives as well.”
Grace Polaris is involved with two different sites, the primary site at Northtowne Park on the north side of Columbus. Each day during the summer, up to 60 kids attend, depending on weather. Speaks estimates that about 100 volunteers from Grace Polaris served at the lunch tents this summer.
“It’s very important to me that we aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but instead trying to connect with community partners who are already involved in ministry,” he stressed. “To me that’s a big win for that community and for us.”
“As we get to spend time with these folks from the community, they get to see over and over that we as a church care about them. And it’s kind of softened them up…as we have conversations with them, they get to see glimpses of the gospel and in some situations we get to share the gospel more fully with them.”
After the summer is over, Grace Polaris will evaluate the summer’s events and decide whether they want to make it a yearly ministry partnership.
“God has given us a tremendous opportunity,” notes Speaks. “He has truly brought the nations to our doorstep and we need to be intentional about connecting with them.
“Our hope is that we really – by serving them – soften them to the gospel.”
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.