Winter shelter

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, February 5, 2023

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Our church participated in housing 65 homeless guests for a week. During that week, we provided a place to sleep along with breakfast and dinner. My wife and I provided breakfast one morning. A local Bojangles offered to provide the food and several volunteers joined in to serve.

Dee Swanson, one of our volunteers wrote about what happened next.

What a wonderful, chaotic experience to help out with our church’s homeless shelter experience. When my husband and I arrived at the church at 5:25 a.m, the first thing we noticed was folks scrambling to find breakfast-appropriate food in the freezer and the pantry to feed the 65 homeless folks the church was hosting that morning.

Pastor Larry was overheard talking to the Bojangles folks on the phone and saying, “There is a fire, and you are not going to be able to bring anything? Oh no!”

Immediately our resourceful volunteers began putting Plan B into action. Pastor Larry raced to Dunkin’ Donuts, returning with dozens of freshly baked donuts. One volunteer rummaged through the freezer and found sausage and bacon. Others opened cans of fruit along with yogurt and muffins.

But then, after we delivered our makeshift breakfast… surprise! Bojangles turned up with their promised menu. They had experienced a fire and were running behind. Whew! As the ad says, “It was Bo time!” 

As I rolled one of the carts between the tables, delivering the warm sausage biscuits, one of the guests politely asked, “Do you have any jam?” Without hesitation, I quickly responded, “No, we don’t.” At the same time, I was thinking to myself, “Hey, you have no idea how chaotic this morning has been. I just gave you a warm sausage biscuit. What more do you want?”

Obviously, what he wanted was simply some jam to go on the biscuit. Almost immediately, I could hear my mother’s voice chastising me. “What a twerp you are. Did you forget that you are in God’s house and supposedly sharing His love with these folks? You didn’t even offer to go to the kitchen and look for jam. “

So, I stepped back as quickly as I could and gave a second, more Christian response. “You know I’m new at this. Let me check.”

When I scurried into the kitchen, they found a cardboard box of at least 300 packets of jam plus another box of small butter containers. Now that’s the way we show our Christian love. Not only are we serving warm sausage biscuits but customizing them with jam and butter.

What a chaotic, amazing morning. Thanks, Dee, for writing this letter, displaying a loving sense of humor and a willingness to laugh at yourself, even while serving others. What a wonderful testimony.

As the church of Jesus Christ, we are challenged to love our neighbor and offer God’s love and grace as an example and testimony of our faith. One example? Providing shelter for our homeless guests. But there are so many other ways to offer encouragement, from providing for the homeless to doing a good deed for a neighbor in need, or simply providing a smile to help brighten someone’s day.

God is continually offering opportunities to witness our faith, sometimes through words and other times through actions. “If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us.” 1 John 4:12

Rev. Larry E. Davies can be reached at