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Food for life and spiritual food for thought

18 July 2018

Food for life and spiritual food for thought

Photo credit: Simon Bennett, Fairfax Media

For the past five years, Joel Spicer has been running The Salvation Army’s Food 4 Life service in Western Sydney, offering healthy and cheap food to a severely disadvantaged community. Out of that, a church service has grown. Joel also recently took on leadership of the nearby Salvation Army Liverpool Corps (church). Joel shared his story.

We have a great church community on site (in Busby, NSW) made up largely of our amazing volunteers, which grew directly out of our Food 4 Life service. Food 4 Life was established to practically meet the need of food insecurity (for example, where parents miss one or two meals in a day in order to be able to feed their kids or pay their bills).

People come in, sign up as members, pay $15 each time they come to shop and probably get about $70 to $80 worth of food including lots of fruit and vegies, plus giveaways. There is a free community café, plus church.

This is a very high-needs area with lots of poverty, brokenness, addiction and mental illness. There are many migrants and many single-parent families. Poverty is a very real issue and it’s an area where many are desperately in need of hope.

The amazing Salvation Army team at Liverpool Salvos (about 10 minutes away) also offer breakfast and lunch to another 150 homeless and disadvantaged people daily, plus providing a range of case management, financial counselling and much more.

We also take church out to the community on the first Sunday of every month.

If you look at Jesus’ ministry in the Bible, he didn’t sit in a building preaching at people – he was out ministering to those who were broken and hurting in society. We look to follow Christ’s example and be his hands and feet in our community.

We see people healed – set free. We have a weekly prayer group and we’ve seen countless prayers answered. God really has a special heart for the poor, the broken and the lost.

While we don’t push anyone in any way – all are welcome and all will receive support – I passionately believe our Lord, Jesus, is the source of hope.

I don’t just talk about it. I’ve lived it my­self. God completely transformed my life.

Even though I came from a loving family, in my teens I became a very lost, broken and sad young man. Then God came in and lifted my life and gave it purpose and meaning.

I’m a walking testament to God’s care. You face challenges in life but I’ve found if you keep your eyes on Jesus and focus on him, he gets you through in the most amazing way.

Our motto at Busby and Liverpool has become “Lead with love” – and we pray that, while serving the community, my wife and I, our leaders and volunteers and church members can truly shine with Jesus’ love. Where that becomes a reality in a community, it is a very cool and beautiful thing!

*As told to Naomi Singlehurst

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Hope where it's needed most