Paul reflects on his visit to the Rainbow Junktion food share at All Hallows.
Today I visited All Hallows Church in Hyde Park and had a cup of tea and a chat with Revd Heston Groenewald, the vicar. As I arrived outside the church there was a line of people outside the door who were there to visit the food share run by the church and local volunteers. The food share was started during the Covid pandemic and has continued due to the increasing need of families and individuals in the area.
Later I discovered that the food share had set a heartbreaking record that day, providing food for over 250 families in the course of just a few hours. While it is amazing to see a church and local community serving those in need with such grace and compassion, at the same time it is heartbreaking that the need for this kind of assistance is continuing to increase.
After leaving the church I remembered that I needed something for dinner that evening and stopped in the supermarket to pick up a couple of items. While at the checkout I ended up talking to the man operating the till and told him where I had been. He agreed that there was a need for this type of assistance but was worried that people would take advantage of the help being offered, telling me of a time he had seen someone leaving a foodbank and then selling the items he had been given at the local pub.
As I reflected on these two encounters, I found myself thinking about the account of Jesus feeding of the five thousand, with five loaves of bread and two fish. In the past when I have heard or read this story, I have understood it to be about God’s ability to take our small offerings and do something amazing with them. However, going back to it today I was struck by something very different.
At no point during this story does Jesus ask anyone there to justify or prove their need for food. Instead, all were fed without question and were able eat until they were satisfied. The story of this miracle appears in all four of the Gospels. No matter which version I read, there is a phrase which seems to leap off the page to me. “Jesus saw the crowd and had compassion on them and healed those in need of healing”. There was no call for repentance or requirement for them to do anything different.
There is a song published by Vicky Beeching in 2010 with the title Break our Hearts. The chorus is simply:
Break our hearts with the things that break Yours
Wake us up to see through Your eyes.
Break our hearts with the things that break yours
And send us out to shine in the darkness.
This is what I see visiting Rainbow Junktion at All Hallows and other similar places across Leeds. A people who see others through the eyes of Christ, who have compassion and who set out to provide for those in need.