Last night was our ministry night at Flying J. We had some of our usual guests and missed some of our other folks. The night started as it usually does – with laundry. We get people set up with laundry, get it going, and then head over to Denny’s for a meal.
This time would be a bit different though. After we placed our orders, I invited everyone into an informal worship at the table. I read the Gospel lesson for this coming Sunday, then asked everyone what they wanted to lift up in prayer. Each person had a prayer concern or a thanksgiving to share. One of our families was grateful for being able to get into a house. This was truly a blessing that we all cheered for. When everyone offered up what their prayer was, we prayed together.
Then we did communion. Everyone participated. It was quite a meaningful moment for me – to offer communion in a restaurant. We used a loaf of Italian bread and grape juice. And everyone communed, including the children. Here we were, about 15 people celebrating the Lord’s supper – people who the Good News was created for. People who can truly appreciate what daily bread is.
And then our food came and we continued with our conversation. The kids and some of our guests told jokes, we laughed, we heard stories, we listened.
And when it was time for the bill, I was handed a check for $11.50. For 15 people. I thought there was a mistake. No, no mistake. The waitress proceeded to tell me that someone paid for the vast majority of our bill – over $165. Wow. What a blessing. We don’t know who our angel was, but we were grateful to them for their immense generosity.
We finished up dinner, got several people set up for showers, and were on our way for the night.
Ministry at Flying J is never dull. There are serious concerns and challenges that each person and family faces – often many challenges thrown in all at once. Often there are things that have no easy solutions. But we are there. We spend time with people who face these challenges. We can’t solve the challenges that people face. But we listen. We offer respect. We offer a sense of community. We make sure people are clean and fed. And now we worship together too. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like much. But I know that it far more than just the limited material things that we can offer. This is what Good News for the poor is all about. It’s a message of recognizing people’s humanity. It is a message of community and reminding people that they matter. It’s a message that lets people know that they are not alone. That they are loved. That they have worth and value because they are God’s children.
Our nights at Flying J are not just a blessing for the people who we serve. These nights are a blessing for us also. It is not uncommon that our families come with extra supplies to be distributed to others in need. One of our guests came with a coupon for a discount at Denny’s. They may not have a lot, but what they have, they share and contribute. It’s their offering for this ministry. And that is a blessing.