When the San Antonio Food Bank made emergency groceries available last week, 10,000 cars filled the parking lot. Many of these vehicles were filled with people who have lost their job recently as a result of the shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But for some of the city’s most vulnerable, enduring such a line is impossible. The city’s senior citizens that battle physical limitations daily are stuck making a difficult decision.
“We’ve got about 1,400 families on our list,” said Rob Johnson, pastor of Christian Family Baptist Church. “Most of those families are 60+ years old. They’re being told to stay at home. But they need food. Now they have to compete with all these other people.”
Seemingly overnight, the congregation has retooled its food ministry specifically to make sure people aren’t falling through the cracks. They’ve increased distributions from monthly to weekly and have scheduled appointments so people can maintain proper social distancing.
For each of the last three weeks, the church has provided food for at least 60 households. A small number of mask-wearing volunteers work like a fine-tuned instrument, orchestrating a delicate balance of efficiency and social distancing. In a matter of minutes, each family is warmly greeted, given bags of food and prayers are offered.
Johnson, who was in the U.S. Air Force, said the outreach is a targeted effort.
“We see ourselves as a special operation,” he said. “We know there are small groups of people the big system doesn’t work for. That’s what we do.”
The congregation is the first recipient of TBM assistance to help Texas churches who have seen a drastic rise in the need for food distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants aim to help congregations serve more people quickly. Christian Family Baptist Church is using the funds to purchase additional food.
TBM Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter joined the pastor in serving.
“This is simply amazing what this church has done,” Carter said. “In a matter of days, they saw the drastic increased need in their community, changed everything about their hungry ministry and are meeting the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in the city.
“In Matthew 25, Jesus says whatever we do for the hungry and thirsty we did for Him. This congregation is truly serving in the name of Christ in a mighty way. It’s an honor to support them and minister alongside them.”
While Texas leaders are trying to slowly open the state back up for business, the pastor is still seeing new people ask for food. The church will continue to meet the need.
“The new people who are coming are saying ‘I’ve never had to ask for food before,’” Johnson said. “Some people have 3-4 families in their home.”
TBM can respond so quickly to disasters of all kinds because of prayer and financial support from people like you. 100 percent of donations for disaster relief ministry support TBM disaster relief efforts.