Fresh Strength – SSS Enduring Change and the Elements

Jenny Jaroneski   -  

While our SSS Program has been around for quite some time, many of us still aren’t quite sure what all three of those S’s stand for. Sometimes we’ve taken to calling it our Community Meal, or Sunday Meal Program. The program has evolved quite a bit over the years and continues to change as COVID has dictated. But we are so glad that the S’s once again stand for Supper, Sack Lunch and Shower.

In its’ history SSS started with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and two guests who were hungry but developed into a buffet all you can eat meal, showers, to go lunches, a clothing closet, bible study and even haircuts on occasion. The Corona Virus scaled us back to TO-GO meals only but also afforded us additional meal services offering two week-day lunches during the Stay-Home Stay-Safe order during Spring of 2020.

Our volunteers come to us from youth groups, small groups and even individuals completing court-ordered community service. Each volunteer comes to us with an opportunity to serve the community, and as a church we have an opportunity to minister to those volunteers as well. We pray with them, we serve with them and form relationships with them, getting to know them and walk along side them on their journey.

But just as important as the volunteers, are the guests that we serve each week. There are guests who come every week that we know by name. We smile, we laugh, we cry and we sing happy birthday. The guests who come to us each Sunday form a community inside our Fellowship Hall and it is a blessing to be able to experience it every week come rain, shine, snow or ice. We are a constant for these individuals and families. Through our ministry Jesus is a constant.

While some of our guests are low income, many are unsheltered. They either stay with someone, at a shelter or at times keep to themselves. While shelters are often an answer, to some it means exposure to alcohol, theft or environments that are triggering and dangerous to their own well-being. One of our guests, Thomas, chooses to keep to himself and weather the storm on his own outside in the elements. According to him, “the trick is to wear layers, stay dry and stay hydrated.” A couple of nights each week, he finds a motel to wash up, get warm and get a good sleep.

During the week, he ventures on the busses to the Salvation Army for a meal, to stores like Meijer where he is able to clean up in the restroom or any other place where he can be warm. He was hunkered down near Chili’s Grill & Bar earlier this week when temperatures reached negative degrees and a plow driver picked him up to ride along to give him respite from the cold. We see Thomas each week and he is always thankful – to us and to God who is always with him, watching over him and protecting him.

Our SSS Meal Ministry program has endured change because God has blessed us. He has called us to be his hands and his feet. He has laid a path before us to serve others, like Thomas, to provide a meal, a place of warmth, a word of encouragement, a smile, compassion and hope.

It can be easy to get bogged down in the abundance of change, or at times that feeling of being stuck in a routine that you can’t break free from. But there is FRESH STRENGTH as we have the opportunity to witness to others and to view our world from a new perspective.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

 – ACTS 1:8