It all started with a simple request from one of the headteachers of a local school at the very start of the pandemic. He asked if we could provide hot meals for students who were receiving free school meals and would be affected by lockdown.

Gateway Church stepped in, not knowing we’d end up running a large-scale operation that’d provide more than 12,000 cooked meals and food parcels over the year to students, vulnerable families, individuals in the community, and NHS night staff at Nevill Hall Hospital.

Armed with a small team of volunteers, a small kitchen, few resources to begin with but a heart of faith and compassion, we began a daily military like routine of sourcing, prepping, cooking, packing, labelling, and hand-delivering to each doorstep several-hundred freshly cooked and eagerly anticipated meals, even taking into account allergy and dietary requirements.

"As the church of Jesus rises up in these times – with the message of hope that He alone gives, with answers and solutions that He alone can provide – new doors will continue to open."

During this time more than 850 kilos of meat was used, 815 kilos of potatoes, close to a ton of vegetables, 3,900 pieces of fruit, 11,872 reusable containers, more than 11,000 paper carry bags, 3,700 sets of cutlery, 3,400 soft drinks, 29,997 sticky labels, 3,200 sticky notes — all this by way of God’s supernatural provision and answers to prayer. God touched so many wonderful individuals and businesses in the church and the community to come forward to support this project.

There were days we had no idea where resource for the next lot of meals were going to come from, and God would supernaturally provide. One day our chef said we had run out of meat, and within two hours a kind-hearted lady brought us 25kgs of prime beef. Another morning, we ran out of vegetables, and within minutes of praying, we had a phone call saying someone was going to pass by with vegetables. These are just some of the miraculous stories of provision we experienced throughout.

Our motto has always been blessed to be a blessing’, and we thank God that as we stepped out with childlike faith, trusting Him to provide what He had asked us to step into, He used this project to bless and touch so many hearts. The stories, the messages, the cards and the appreciation continue to pour in even till this day. Our work goes on too: we continue to meet needs in our community – demonstrating the love and power of Christ – not just by way of food and material requirements, but also with prayer, with encouragement, with listening ears and with His healing.

The harvest is ready, hearts are yearning. As the church of Jesus rises up in these times – with the message of hope that He alone gives, with answers and solutions that He alone can provide – new doors will continue to open. The kingdom of God will advance in a world that desperately needs the saviour. The Balm of Gilead’ will minister His healing, restoring and reconciling touch to a broken and hurt generation that desperately needs to find their Father. It is an exciting new season.

Let us take heart that we are all in this together. We need each other as the body of Christ. In fact, this pandemic has brought us all closer together— one church, in several congregations, scattered all across this beautiful country. So let us run together, holding on to Him and to one another, doing everything we can in the few years we have on earth, before He comes to take us all to our forever home. God bless you abundantly.