Monday, August 3 2020 - 10:18 AM
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A Soup Kitchen Surprise

The pungent odor of sweaty bodies and pre-cooked food greeted me as I walked in. Enormous pots bubbled with soup, and pre-cut salad fixings lined the counters. It was so much different than I’d imagined. Movies had given me a false description of a soup kitchen. I’d imagined a clean and sterile setting — flowers on the table, and a woman with a patterned apron. But before me, I saw a drastic difference.

On one particular Saturday afternoon, I decided to go to the community soup kitchen with a group of students. I’d been cooped up in the dorm all too often; volunteering could be fun! A college van picked up my group and took us to our destination for the afternoon. Once we arrived, we signed the guestbook as volunteers before heading to the kitchen. Food stains covered the white-tiled floor. The cook turned around and offered up a smile:

“Hi, guys! It’s nice of you to come. We’re very short-staffed, and we’re always happy to have a couple of extra pairs of hands.”

After a few instructions on the dining hall setup, we were all handed hair nets, gloves, and oversized aprons. Soon, the doors opened and in poured dozens of homeless people. Women and children went through line first, pointing at the specific foods they wanted. The line dissolved quickly, and just when I thought we were done, dozens of men fell into line. I was a little more uneasy at the looks of this particular crowd. Gruff exteriors greeted me with missing teeth and greasy hair. But despite some of the terrifying looks, I continued to smile while serving.

In a few moments one particular gentleman came through the line and shot me a puzzled look. I smiled and asked what he’d like. His question took me by surprise.

“Are you a Christian?”

I paused and looked up, giving a puzzled expression. “Why, yes, I am. How did you know?”

“I just had a feeling. What denomination are you?”

Still stunned, I replied:

“I’m a Seventh-day Adventist. My father is a pastor.”

His eyes sparkled, “You go to church on Saturday, right? I knew an Adventist once.”

“You did?”

“Yup. Nicest guy I ever met! He was nothing but kind, and I have the utmost respect for your faith. Thank you for serving me today.”

I watched him move down the line, still in shock over what had just occurred. It was the first time I’d met someone outside of my faith that even knew my denomination. I spent the rest of the day smiling over my conversation with that man. Beyond his torn clothes and gruff exterior was a man who recognized my faith. A positive experience had influenced him.

After such a puzzling encounter, I realize how important it is to live our truth. As Christians, we don’t always think of our influence on others who watch or interact with us. The way we treat others is detrimental because people do watch our interactions.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17, NIV).

As Christians, we should feel privileged that we’re able to influence others in a positive and Christ-like manner. We have been blessed with the gift of influence. Stand out and use that influence for good. What we say, and everything that we do should resemble that of Christ’s character.

Madeleine Lowe writes from Indiana.

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About Madeleine Lowe

Madeleine Lowe

writes from Indiana.

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