By Analiz G. Schremmer
Every Wednesday, at least 300 people line up outside of New Light Baptist Church of Lubbock for a sack lunch. They receive food, but are also served a helping of love, respect and kindness.
“I don’t care what they look like or what their hygiene is like, we will treat them with dignity and respect,” said New Light Baptist Church Pastor Kenneth Jackson. “I think a lot of them are shocked by the reception they get; but we are Christians so we are supposed to be full of compassion.”
The Love and Lunch program started in 2008 with a distribution of 15 sack lunches. Jackson said 337 were served the second Wednesday in May.
Jackson, who serves as president of the African American Fellowship of Lubbock and networks with Texas Baptists African American Ministries, said that John 21 inspired him to start the lunch program.
“That really stayed with me,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow, what a wonderful thing to do. We are going to start a lunch program.’ We put flyers out in the community and the word of mouth got out and people started coming.”
Jackson said the lunch program, which is open to anyone who comes, is also an evangelistic effort.
“What we are trying to do is give people an opportunity to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The lunch programs give us the opportunity to interact with members of the local community, the homeless community and those down on their luck and talk to them about God. We also invite social service agencies to come in and offer help.”
Jackson, who studied social work in college, said the church assess the needs of the client so that they can direct them to services that are available in the community.
“The church secretary is our social services resource person and she has a book with services in area. We get a chance to direct people to services, because a lot of people don’t know where to get the help they need.It’s been a great opportunity to offer help.I have a survey form that I use to capture their information so that when we can see what their physical needs are. Then, when we do a home visit, we can share the plan of salvation. We want them to know that we are concerned about them totally,”
Jackson shared the story of a lady who came to Love and Lunch asking for help for her five grandchildren.
She said she didn’t know what to do and was at her wit’s end because she didn’t even know where the children’s mothers were, Jackson said.
“Can you envision a grandmother taking care of five additional children on her income? So I referred her to social services and they have helped her. She came back one Sunday and told the whole church, ‘I’m so glad pastor talked to me because I didn’t know what to do.’”
“I get chills thinking about it,”Jackson added. “Who knows how many people have been impacted greatly that we don’t even know about. I’m so thankful to the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering for assisting us with the work here. They have been a big help to us in terms of assisting us with resources to provide items that we need for the lunch programs.”
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