Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. Agape is the Greek word for divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. Greek philosophers at the time of Plato used it in a way that suggested a universal, as opposed a personal, love; as in love of humanity.
A Bit of History — Previously known as Sunday Breakfast, we changed the name to Agape Café, in the late Fall, as we saw the ministry changing and bonds of caring being formed and we shared God's Agape Love. This is a ministry of the Latino Ministry which started by feeding burritos and coffee to homeless under the bridges back in January of 2012. Pastor Sergio and the group decided to bring the breakfast to the church Fellowship Hall on Easter Sunday, 2012. That day 18-20 people were served a prepared breakfast at their tables.
At this time, January 2013, a week ago, we served between 70-80 people. About 1/3 of the guests were first time guests. Most of them were men in their early 30's to early 40's. What a change from the normal population of our guests!!
Congratulations to the Latino Ministry on this amazing journey which we are so proud to be a part of. To do God's work among these people and be blessed in return. This is an awesome experience for many of us.
It is the next step!! It started with a concert last December when we thought we might purchase a property to build a housing unit for qualified homeless guests. At Christmas time, we found that if we couldn't house them, we could at least keep them warm, so on the Sunday before Christmas we gave each guest a sweatshirt. After a meeting last week, we have chosen to focus on immediate needs, wishes and support.
We will be holding our first Craft Class for women on Thursday, February 7 at 3 pm in the Heritage Room. When asking the women what they did during the day, they responded "Nothing!!" So with a couple of crafts in mind: we will meet, have fellowship, learn to get to know each other on a deeper level, and make a simple craft following a short lesson. They are very excited about this opportunity. One homeless woman offered to get her craft items out of storage and bring them for us to work on. Several other craft classes will be teaching to make jewelry and a simple sewing project. We will plan to hold a boutique in the Spring, sell the crafts, and as another homeless woman suggested, put the money back into the program.
This is an exciting step forward. They will feel a new sense of accomplishment, and become more confident in their talents, and be uplifted as a woman.
For the men, we are planning several community projects, such as the cleanup of the back parking lot of a restaurant, and just general community service. They want to work, they want to be needed, and they want to give back.
There is a chance to help several accomplish some educational goals, and we will work on having them realize that goal.
Yayo Morales, a member of the Latino Ministry, is taking pictures, and also making a video which will be used for possibly seeking corporate funds, or just bringing our work and message to the community.
Our guests — We know their names, they are greeted with a hug every Sunday morning, they trust us, and they are beginning to share their fears, hopes, and needs with us. That is why we are taking this next step. To make them feel like valuable, worthy people of Agape Love.
Many people wonder why our Agape Café guests do not come to our church service. Well, we provide a simple church service for them right in the Fellowship Hall with one of our team sharing the message. A couple of times, we have had a guest share a testimony, sometimes more powerful than what one of us would give. Once we even started serving breakfast, and one man raised his hand and said, "Sister, we didn't say the prayer yet!!"
So as not to confuse the two: Agape Café is a ministry of the Latino Ministry, funded by Pastor Sergio's grant monies and private donations. Agape Homeless Project is a ministry of like-minded individuals who wish to sponsor life changing moments, no matter how small, for homeless and persons of need. It is currently funded by concerts performed by Vern Nelson, our organist and pianist, and we are deeply grateful for his talent and expertise. See front page of the February 2013 issue of OUMC's newsletter, The Net, for our next fundraiser on Sunday, February 17. Open to the Public!! Invite your friends, please!
This is an exciting journey for us and we ask nothing but your prayers for its success and God's blessings on their lives. But should you wish to participate in any way, donations are accepted (payable to OUMC — Agape Homeless Project). Or you may wish to join us by sharing a craft that you could teach, or help on a work project as a mentor.
Please feel free to contact Sharyl Lewis.