By Kara Witherow, Editor
Leftovers. The forgotten stepchild of the food world, they’re usually banished to the back of the refrigerator and left to sit and spoil unless grudgingly eaten for lunch.
But leftovers have become a big deal for one Macon small group, so much so that its members purposefully overcook so that enough extra food is on hand after each month’s “Family Feast” potluck meal that they can go out into the community and serve those who are less fortunate.
The Well’s Footprints small group has met for nearly two years, and a few months ago its members decided that they wanted to add a service component to their gatherings. They eat together on the second Sunday of each month, and during a conversation about what they could do to serve their community someone suggested they pack their excess food onto to-go plates and in plastic containers and serve it to people in need.
Now the group prepares extra meat, vegetables, dessert, and bread each month to serve dozens of men and women who are homeless. After they eat, they gather, pray, and head into downtown Macon to share their food and the love of Christ.
“We’re a church that believes in the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, and God calls us to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, and to love each other, and He told us to go out into the world and share the good news,” said Rev. Sue Jackson, pastor of The Well, a United Methodist congregation in Macon. “The food is simply an avenue; we end up talking with people and praying with them and engaging with them. We’re teaching each other as we do God’s work, and it’s great to see His work come alive.”
Mike Barron, who helps lead the Footprints group, had one man in particular in mind as the group went out one recent Sunday. Barron didn’t know his name, but he knew that he lived under one of the Interstate-16 overpass bridges, and Barron wanted to take him a plate of food.
“I made sure that we went there with a plate of food but he wasn’t there,” Barron said. “I walked up to his place up there under the road and left the plate and a bottle of water next to his bag of belongings.”
The Footprints group is comprised of mostly 60-something-aged adults, but a handful of college students and youth have accompanied them as they served the homeless. On Sunday, April 10, one young man even gave a homeless man the shoes off his own feet after seeing that the man’s shoes were riddled with holes.
“(It was) the most joyful and humbling event,” Barron said. “Immediately Matthew 25:36 came to mind.”
That day the group had 20 plates of food and could have used and served 20 more, Barron said, but the food is simply one aspect of the ministry.
“Some were really hungry, but others weren’t as hungry for food as they were for love and attention,” said Bonnie Barron, Mike’s wife and another member of the Footprints small group. “God says we need to take care of one another, and we just feel that this is one way we can do that.”
A young, small, revitalized congregation born out of Doles United Methodist Church in June 2013, The Well is a church where outreach ministry and serving others has become ingrained in its culture.
In addition to the monthly feeding ministry, the church participates in Operation Christmas Child, provides grits to the soup kitchen each month, hosts a ministry with the neighborhood mobile home community, and provides “Love Bags” stocked with toiletries and other necessities to those in need.
“We share God’s love by sharing our resources,” Rev. Jackson said. “We want to continually have a focus on outreach and missions.”