In The Beginning
It was a sunny day in Florida, something I have come to enjoy as I grew up in the very cold winters of Massachusetts. My husband and I was floating around in the pool and just contemplating life when one of us came up with an idea to start a “Soup Kitchen” but not just a regular soup kitchen but one which would show the extravagant love of Jesus Christ; the extravagant love that we had experienced through the Celebration Center out in California. The Celebration Center is a Seventh Day Adventist Church, which only has one message….The love of God. They wanted to reach all the kind of people Jesus ministered to. We dreamed of what this Soup Kitchen would look like. We prayed about it and then we started polling members in our church to see if they would support it financially.
I think at this time if either one of us knew just what lay ahead of us we would have floated some more and said no this sounds like a lot of work, and just forgotten it. But God in His wisdom doesn’t lay His whole plan out all at once, for us weak human beings to become discouraged. He just allows us to experience one obstacle at a time. The first obstacle we experience was a building.
We looked at one for $800 a month. Our church couldn’t afford it as we were in the middle of an expansion project in our church so we were turned down. We resubmitted the plan several times redefining it until eventually it was affordable. We would start off by feeding the homeless out on the streets and sharing the gospel with them. We started out in our 1976 Ford Station wagon to do just that. This was not an easy thing to do as according to our city at that time, "there were not any homeless in the city" The Homeless lived all around us but not in our fair city.
Then one day Joy Dupernault from the Peace Lutheran Church was visiting with Kay Durendetto, who at that time was the head of the Port Charlotte Seventh Day Adventist Community Service. Kay shared with her our dream of starting a soup kitchen in Port Charlotte. Isn't God Awesome! Joy actually had a ministry that helped to connect other people to their ministries and helped them to accomplish them. Joy took us to a soup kitchen in Fort Myers and we continued to dream. She showed us where the homeless hung out and we began feeding them on Friday and Saturday nights behind the Amoco Station. She then introduced us to Ana and Paula. They were all God’s angels in disguise. Ana was the head of the Homeless Coalition and Paula at that time headed the United Way of Charlotte County. They would pick up homeless guys and transport them to the beach for us.
We started out feeding behind the Amoco Station but soon wanted a better place when the homeless were asked to move on to other places. We approached different people and were turned down so eventually we started feeding by renting a pavilion on the beach each week. We would lug a TV and VCR to the beach and set it up with words on the screen and music when we didn’t have the luxury of having a live band to worship with each Friday night.
It was during one of our first Friday nights on the beach that this awesome event happened. We had arrived on the beach with our small church group and our musicians. We had just finished eating and were preparing to worship with the homeless when all of a sudden a storm came up.
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