Tina Salmans, a long-time member of St. Andrew’s UMC, Parkersburg, recently noticed several men from a drug rehab center walking by her business each weekday. She felt a nudge to go and talk with the men but was concerned about what they would think. The sense that she should talk with them grew stronger, and she went out to meet them one day and started a conversation.
These men were walking to a class connected with their rehab, and then had lunch provided three days a week. When she found out lunches weren’t always covered on the other two days, Tina volunteered her church for one of those days.
St. Andrew’s was already feeding the Scouts twice a month and is very quick to embrace new ministries. Tina mentioned the plan the following Sunday, held a meeting of those interested after church, and started lunches the following Wednesday.
One of the men mentioned that they originally wondered “who were these people”, but relationships developed quickly. The workers don’t just provide a meal – they sit and eat with the men, get to know them, and provide a sense of community. On the second Wednesday, the men not only agreed to have their photo taken, they stood up and gathered for a group photo. Before the photo was taken, they decided they wanted all the church people in the photo as well.
This feeding ministry has been a joy and blessing for the men in the program, and perhaps even more of a joy and blessing for the church members involved. It’s good to be reminded that we’re all in this together and that we can make a difference. One of the men shared that sometimes they feel like the lowest of the low, and he stressed just how much of a difference love and support can make.
St Andrew’s UMC is located in Parkersburg, WV in the Little Kanawha District and is served by Rev. Jonathan Nettles.