What’s happening at Soul Food Christian Community?
Soul Food Christian Community runs the local café in Redwood Park, Soul Food Community Café. Our café is a popular meeting place for families with young children, as well as many of our local community. We have been operating for 13 years, we are open six days a week and we are staffed by a very committed team, most of whom are volunteers. We don’t have a church building, but rather we run the cafe in the local shopping centre as our way of being faithfully present. We believe our calling is to immerse ourselves in this local community, loving one another, representing Jesus wherever we can and being a blessing to those we connect with. We have many customers who visit us every day. There is a whole community of them now…very few even knew each other beforehand!
Our cafe gives us opportunities to connect with our community in many different ways. We are a drop-off point for donations for Backpacks 4 SA Kids (a local charity helping children in foster care) as well as collecting donations for Westcare and Compassion. We have recently established a Free Little Library; we have a weekly group of retired men who enjoy breakfast together each week and sing carols in our cafe every Christmas; we have a knitting group that meet regularly on our lounges while their kids play. Our latest volunteer on Saturday mornings has been coming into the cafe since he was in playgroup and he has been itching to turn 14 so that he could come and help out! We didn’t plan any of these connections, but we recently came across the term ‘place-making’ and now we understand what God has been leading us in all these years. It feels like the opportunities are never-ending.
On Sunday evenings we have a community meal called ‘The Table’ which is designed to give people a taster of what it means to be part of God’s family. We have many locals who join us…we eat together around one big table, someone shares something about what God has been doing in their life, or why they follow Jesus, and we share prayer needs and pray together. The Table has become a safe place for people who are struggling, lonely or living with illness or a disability. Everyone is welcome, everyone participates, everyone experiences something of God.
Recently a growing purpose for our cafe is providing volunteering opportunities for people. We usually have a couple of high school students on the team, as well as some job-seekers, who are looking to learn new skills and gain experience in hospitality. There is a range of disabilities and learning needs that can be a part of this, and we see our café as a safe and caring environment for people to explore what it means to be ‘work ready’. We also have other volunteers who are looking for social connection as they navigate a difficult season in their life, and whilst they may not always be operating at full capacity we consider it a joy to be able to nurture people through these times, whether that be for a few weeks, or over the long term.
This ‘training ground’ ministry seems to be expanding and we are becoming more well-known for the opportunities we can provide. We would appreciate prayer for wisdom in the leadership of this, as well as increased capacity within our ministry team to care for the people who come amongst us. We also long to see more of those who help in our café, as well as the many customers we connect with, join us at the Table and experience more of Jesus.