COLUMBUS, Ga. – It can be a miserable time of the year for the homeless, with the high heat and humidity. A local group of volunteers from various churches makes a weekly effort to feed some of those without a home.
Each Tuesday night, a back room of a local real estate firm is turned into a hot meal assembly line. Dozens of volunteers work in concert to prepare Styrofoam plates of food for the homeless. They also stuff bags filled with snacks and goodies. Separate bags are bulging with toiletry items. Once assembled, the food plates and bags of supplies are loaded into personal vehicles. The group forms a circle for prayer before they caravan to places where they’ve made connections with the homeless. Like here in a small tent village off Third.
“We’re going out in the woods and we’re going under bridges and we’re going on the railroad tracks. We’re going out and serving them where they are,” said Ed Grifenhagen.
Ed Grifenhagen started this ministry last fall. It’s called M2540.
“It stands for Matthew, chapter 25, verse 40 which is: whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” said Ed Grifenhagen.
As the volunteers distribute the meals and personal items to their beneficiaries. They spend time talking with them and listening to their stories.
“Every single person is not going to want to get off the streets, but some of them are. And we don’t know who that is going to be. And so, we’re going to feed the 99 to find the one,” said Ed Grifenhagen.
Niki Lopez is from Southern California. She’s been involved with the ministry for about six months.
“One of the things that touches me most is that…I’ve been there. I’ve been in that situation. I’ve been homeless before. I’ve been in their shoes,” said Niki Lopez. “For the better part of my childhood, a very big part of my childhood, we lived in tents and trailers, out of a broken down car.”
The memories from her childhood fuel her desire to be an instrument in God’s hand to bless some of the homeless in Columbus.
“Now that I’ve built trust with some of these people, for them to come up to me, run up to me and hug me, I’m like, man, what I would have given for just one person, when I was 7, 10, 13, what I would have given to have just one person come every week, whether I talked to them or not,” said Niki Lopez.
Before the group leaves to head for the next stop, they always join hands in prayer. It was lead Joshua, a member of the homeless camp.
“Dear Heavenly Father, as we gather here today, Father God, we just thank you and praise you for these folks that came out and show us love. Father God, we thank you for the dinner that they serve and the things that they do for us, Father God,” said Joshua.
The heavens seemed to answer amen.