My first experience of Glasgow City Mission was as a volunteer at the evening drop-in. We served an abundance of food: lots of donated sandwiches and cakes from shops like Greggs and Pret a Manger. In 2018, we made a decision to change the way we provide for our guests and appointed Charles Maasz as our Pastoral Chef. By this point, I had come on board as a member of staff, and I will never forget the presentation Charlee gave to an assembly of volunteers where he spoke about “the ministry of the table”. We began serving a hot meal every evening, with at least two choices of main course. Volunteers were able to sit down and eat with guests, eliminating any kind of us/them dynamic.
This ethos was always part of our core values, but something about the increase in the quality of food on offer was significant. Rather than eating sandwiches that hadn’t sold that day in café – the rejects from the lunchtime rush – our guests began to feast on casseroles, curries, and stews. Vegetables were sneaked in! Yesterday, guests might have chosen an egg roll for breakfast, stovies and fresh fruit for lunch, and risotto and coconut-lime cake for dinner. We have seen genuine transformation in some long-term guests – physically and emotionally – now that one of their basic human needs is met in such an lavish way.
We love and serve a generous God. This generosity flows out of supporters who donate money and resources to us, and out of volunteers who give so graciously of their time and empathy to welcome every guest who enters our building.
I have worked alongside one volunteer for years, a doctor, who would spend the rest of the week with patients. She naturally gravitates to the most vulnerable person in the room. She sees need and responds with compassion. I am amazed by how long she will sit with a guest, listening to and encouraging them, long past the time when others would have lost patience.
Just recently, a volunteer on my evening team sat for over an hour with a guest, waiting for an ambulance. I would pop my head around the door to check in, providing an option for this volunteer to tap out and pass the baton to someone else. He told me three times, “We’re fine here Clare. We’ll let you know if we need you.” What grace. This is the love of Jesus, poured out for a child of God.
The atmosphere of lavish giving here is normal, so commonplace that it often goes unnoticed – certainly by me. However, it is truly impactful; we often see it reflected by guests, too. A few years ago, I had to take some medication which made me feel very sick. I mentioned this in passing to a guest in Urban, someone I know well and had supported for a while. Over the next few days, he brought me a muffin, a punnet of grapes, a peppermint slice. He is normally generous and the penny didn’t drop for me until the third day – he knew I was struggling to eat and so he was bringing me food he knows I enjoy.
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
Teresa de Jesus
We are currently recruiting for both a full- and part-time chef, as well as for volunteers. Would you like to be a part of this body of Christ?