The Grace Brethren Church in Ripon, Calif., is located less than two blocks from the local high school. A number of years ago, the then-youth pastor decided to offer a once-a-week lunch at the church for high school students as an outreach. Jammie Villines, a church member with five kids in the youth group at the time, joined them.
“[I got involved] because all my kids were a part of the youth group,” noted Villines, who oversees one of the meals each week. “I thought, ‘Hey, that’s a ministry that we could help out with.”
The church rotates four different meals, inviting high school students to hear a challenge from the Bible, by a different youth pastor each week.
“This ministry is great because we are able to speak the Lord to [the students], which you don’t get much opportunity in school. We have that opportunity for them to actually come here and develop rapport and trust with them.”
Aside from a meal and a short message, volunteers are able to spend time with students, offering a listening ear. Villines continues, “Offering unconditional love is my goal. You never really know what God’s doing, but you start seeing kids start coming to youth group [as a result].”
Three other evangelical congregations have joined in the effort, though the event continues to be held at Ripon Grace.
“I think the biggest one of the things that is really cool about this ministry is that the people that actually speak at this engagement are not just from our church. They’re from different bodies and maybe not even [hold exactly] the same beliefs. The core beliefs are, of course, Jesus Christ and the Gospel. But I love to see the unity of God working.
“It’s not just our church building. It’s the body of Christ coming together and we all do our part.”
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.