In April, the COVID-19 epidemic shut down our church’s in-person food pantry and community breakfast, but the need in our downtown Brooklyn neighborhood didn’t stop—if anything, it’s gotten bigger as other community pantries have had to close. What we did was move our operations outdoors. Now people can receive a take-away hot breakfast three times a week, plus a bag of food several times a month. We’ve even started delivery to people who can’t leave their homes and those who can’t safely come to us. And we’ve teamed up with a program that sends a mobile shower van to park outside our church once a week. There people who are homeless receive a hot shower, toiletries, and other necessities that most of us take for granted.
While people wait in line, volunteers pray with them and keep track of their prayer requests. I’ve started praying over these requests every morning as part of my devotional time. What surprised me greatly was that although the people who come to us have so many needs of their own, most of their prayer requests have to do with other people. They pray for their families, for the doctors and nurses who are fighting the pandemic, and for the nation at large.
Reading these prayers makes me feel that God is introducing me to these people I’ve never met. I’m seeing them not just as people in need, but people who care about others. It makes me feel humble and grateful that our church is able to help so many. We are not a wealthy congregation by any means, but I hope we are rich in love. Being there to help is what God’s people do.
I could not have found The Upper Room Moments of Prayer (on Facebook Live) sooner. For it is during these moments of centering spiritual practices, meditating on the words of scripture, praying with and for the world, that I find moments of transcendence, hear whispers of peace and hope, see glimpses of truth and justice, behold visions of love and beauty amid all the stark realities that are around me.”