Phil Bryant, pastor of Community of Hope, a Grace Brethren church in Surrey, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver, remembers the Sunday when his family was all settled in for their afternoon nap.
At 3:00 o’clock, they were awakened by a knock on the door. A Chinese couple stood on their front porch.
“‘Is this‑‑this Community of Hope?’” Phil remembers them asking.
“Yes,” Phil responded. “This is Community of Hope.”
They didn’t seem to believe him, he recalls. “We’re supposed to deliver food to you. You have a meeting here for 40 people.’”
“No, we don’t have any meeting tonight. We had it earlier this morning.”
“Oh, no, no! I’m from a Tibetan restaurant in Vancouver. We have a special order for you. I have a thousand dollars worth of food sitting in my car.”
Phil says he shook his head, explaining. “This is Community of Hope. This is the right address, but we didn’t order any food.”
He invited the couple in, just as a lady from a local pizza shop came up the sidewalk.
“Is this Community of Hope?” she asked.
“Someone just put a big order in. We haven’t made it yet, but we wanted to verify this is Community of Hope and we’re supposed to bring it here,” she explained, noting there were $800 worth of pizzas ordered for a meeting of 60 people.
Since the church meets in a movie theater, the church address in the phone directory is connected to the home address of the Bryants.
It soon became apparent they had been victims of a prank. “Most restaurants have policies that stop this from happening, but this poor Tibetan family who lives in Vancouver, who have only been in Canada for three years, didn’t have this policy in place and they took the order because of good will, because it was for a church. They thought this would be okay, and then they brought it all the way from Vancouver, a 45-minute drive, to us,” says Phil.
“We were all upset,” remembers Phil. A call to the police revealed that it was a civil matter and there was no recourse.
When the Bryants tried to pay them, the Tibetan family refused, then they left half the food, all generous portions, since it couldn’t be sold.
“There was enough food in our house to feed 40 people,” he smiles.
The Bryants decided to take advantage of the opportunity to reach out to their neighbors.
He went door-to-door, inviting the their neighbors for a spontaneous dinner party.
“Four of the families came and we had a great time,” he says.
“God can take some little rascals who do some crazy things and do some awesome things with it,” stresses Bryant, noting that most of their neighbors don’t have a faith in Jesus Christ. This situation created yet another opportunity to touch the lives of those who live around them.
“From a spiritual standpoint, it was a healthy encouragement to let us know that God is at work and He has not forgotten our love for our neighbors,” Bryant says. “He is working in their lives and will work circumstances for us to lean into to see them come to know Him.”
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information about ministries in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.