Local Ministry Offers More Than Food to the Needy

July 23, 2003
Santa Paula News

The Light of Life Church started their “Feed My Sheep” ministry almost two years ago and what it offers to people with struggling lifestyles in Santa Paula is unique.

By Genevieve BrancoSanta Paula TimesThe Light of Life Church started their “Feed My Sheep” ministry almost two years ago and what it offers to people with struggling lifestyles in Santa Paula is unique. Hundreds of local residents have benefited from the weekly soup kitchen and food pantry run by this church. In addition to providing a warm meal at 5pm Wednesday nights, Light of Life also offers a place to sit and eat, as well as a church service immediately following (at 6pm). After the service families can take a box of food home, which usually contains about $150 worth of groceries. The church gets its food mostly through donations from the Children’s Hunger Fund, and Food Share.The Light of Life Church, a Pentecostal Holiness Church, began its soup kitchen and food pantry efforts about a year after the church itself opened its doors. Their Pastor, Ron Wilson, heard what he calls the voice of God, telling him to reach out beyond the walls of the church and help the people of the city.Pastor Wilson said, “I was praying in the pew, asking the Lord why I was here. He said that He brought me here to make a difference in my community. Just like Jesus asked Peter in John 2:17, the Lord asked me, ‘Do you love me?’ And when I said yes, he said, ‘Feed My Sheep.’”Although “Feed My Sheep” helps over 50 people per week, Pastor Wilson is clear about one thing: this ministry is meant to be a hand up, not a hand out. That is why it is supported by a Christian atmosphere. Although there are no official requirements to take advantage of the soup kitchen, Pastor Wilson said there is encouragement for people to attend at least one Christian service somewhere each week.
But the vision of this little church (a church that has less than 50 members) is much bigger than a once a week soup kitchen. The Benevolent Minister and owner of Santa Paula Lock & Key, Joe Taylor, said that their vision includes a drug and alcohol rehab center, free day care for single parents, a G.E.D. program, and much more.How do they plan on accomplishing this vision? Pastor Wilson said that of course it will take financial resources, but even more importantly, it will take committed church members who share the vision. He said that they have to “see people like Jesus saw people - He saw what was in people’s hearts.” He feels blessed that the church is already growing with people who are willing to get in there and touch others.Taylor is confident that the finances to support this work will continue to come as well. “So far,” said Taylor, “Each time we’ve talked about needing something, it’s come across my path the very next day.” One example is the restaurant-capacity refrigerator that he found stuck in the back of someone’s garage. When Taylor explained to the owner that his church would use it to store perishable goods for their weekly food boxes, the man donated it to the church.18 year old Chris Shanks can attest to how “Feed My Sheep” changed his life. Shanks lived under a bridge when he first came to Light of Life. Now he has a job, a secure place to live, and is even the sound technician at the church.For more information about Light of Life church or how you can support its ministries, call (805) 933-5004. Church services are open to all, and are held on Wednesday at 6pm, Saturday at 7pm, and Sunday at 6pm, at 208 S. Mill St., Santa Paula.

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