They began with sandwiches, coffee/hot chocolate/juice, fruit, snacks, tracks and, of course, the love of Jesus. Over time, more and more interest was generated in serving the homeless – and others on the streets – on Sunday mornings before church. Eventually, the other weeks of the month were covered by different teams.
After taking a look what was available to the homeless and others on the street in terms of food and other necessities, it was determined that there really was nothing available, on a regular basis, for people on the weekends. So, in January 2006, the breakfast outreach ministry started. It started out small. Very small. Our plan was to serve a complete breakfast (pancakes, eggs, sausage, pastries, coffee and hot chocolate) to people on the street on the last Saturday of each month. Our friends at Antioch Baptist Church graciously allowed us to use its Fellowship Hall for the breakfasts. We advertised about the breakfast at various locations in the city, but unfortunately, a few days before the first breakfast, we were told that we would be unable to use the Fellowship Hall that particular Saturday. Knowing that we had already advertised the breakfast, we did not want to completely cancel. We knew that we had to be there for any of the homeless or others on the street that would show up. We made a container of coffee, ran down to McDonald’s and purchased 13 breakfast sandwiches, and stood out in front of the Fellowship Hall. It was freezing. No one actually showed up for the breakfast, so, we began yelling at passersby to see if they wanted a hot cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Most of the people walking by thought we were nuts, but after a few hours or so, we were able to distribute the breakfast sandwiches and most of the coffee.
From that humble beginning, the Lord grew the breakfast tremendously. The following month, we had about 25 people, and then he continued to grow the breakfast month after month. After a year or so we added a Saturday breakfast on the second week of each month. After another year, the Lord opened up an opportunity to the ministry to have the breakfasts at the Fellowship House on Broadway. Shortly after moving the breakfast to the Fellowship House, the Lord continued to expand this area of the ministry. A breakfast on the third week and then on the first week were added. We began using our ministry bus to bring people from downtown to and from the breakfast. Between having a very visible spot on Broadway and shuttling our guests from downtown to and from the breakfast, the number of people served grew dramatically. Now, we were regularly serving between 250 and 300 people each Saturday. Of course, it wasn’t long before a team was added to cover the months that had a fifth Saturday in them. It was crazy… but a good kind of crazy.
In addition to providing a hot, nutritious breakfast each week, we began distributing clothing. Friends of the ministry donated a Prayer Station and that, along with sitting down and sharing the hope of the gospel with our guests, became central to the breakfast ministry. The Fellowship House graciously allowed us to have our breakfasts at their facility until 2014. At that time, we moved to the Aretha Wright men’s homeless shelter on Atlantic Avenue. The Volunteers of America Delaware Valley offered us the use of the shelter’s kitchen and dining area for our weekly community outreach breakfasts. We continue to serve our breakfast there each week – 52 weeks a year. This arm of the ministry became known as “My Father’s Hands.”