DALLAS—Jesus fed hungry multitudes, and a South Dallas church believes it should do no less.
New El Bethel Baptist Church in Dallas launched Feed 5,000 about 11 years ago to provide food to homeless people living in shelters, street camps, tent cities and under bridges, said Lillian Tarkington, one of the leaders of the congregation’s outreach ministry.
‘We’ve got to do more’
Sara Blake, who has worked with the Feed 5,000 ministry since its beginning, still vividly remembers her first experience delivering meals on the streets.
“We knew there was a need, but we didn’t know how great it was. We fixed 50 bags of food and drove up to where the homeless were, thinking we were fixing to make a difference,” she recalled.
In a matter of minutes, the volunteers gave away all the food they brought, and it seemed to them they hardly had scratched the surface.
“We watched people who needed help, and we had nothing for them,” she said. “We went back to the church, regrouped and said: ‘We’ve got to do more. We’ve got to do better.’ So, we increased the number each time we went out.”
Over the past decade, volunteers have served hot breakfasts during the winter and cold water in the summer. Pastor Timothy Brown strongly supports the ministry, she added, noting his commitment to community ministry.
‘Whatever we have, we’re eager to share’
“For most of these people, the sky is their roof, and the ground is their bed,” Blake said. “Whatever we have, we’re eager to share.”
New El Bethel has received support from the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering for its Feed 5000 ministry.
Sign up for our weekly email newsletter.
In July and August, volunteers from New El Bethel provide about 100 snack packs per week they distribute to homeless and disadvantaged people at the Martin Luther King Community Center near Fair Park.
More than two dozen members meet at the church to assemble the bags, and about a half dozen give them away at the community center.
“The first time we meet somebody, we focus on feeding them the physical food they need first,” Blake said. But as the volunteers get acquainted with some of the same people week after week, they are able to talk with them more and pray with them.
“Every once in a while, we manage to get the word of God in,” she said. “Sometimes, they will come in saying: ‘God is good. He let me wake up this morning.’ There are people in church every week who never stop to thank God for another day.”
‘You’re that church that feeds us good’
At Christmas, volunteers from New El Bethel transport homeless people from shelters and other places they gather to the Larry Johnson Recreation Center in South Dallas for a Christmas party.
“We’ll give away toys to the children, food baskets and toiletries, and we’ll let people shop for clothes and shoes” at no cost, volunteer Yvette McCree said. Between 400 and 500 people from the shelters and the streets sit down to a hearty meal.
Word spreads among the homeless population, she noted.
“I can remember going to deliver water bottles to the shelter and to a tent city,” she recalled. “When people found out where we were from, somebody said, ‘You’re that church that feeds us good.’”
Read more articles like this in CommonCall magazine. CommonCall explores issues important to Christians and features inspiring stories about disciples of Jesus living out their faith. An annual subscription is only $24 and comes with two free subscriptions to the Baptist Standard. To subscribe to CommonCall, click here.