Matthew 25 Ministry shows unconditional love of Christ

Published 7:43 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2018

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.”

These words, delivered by Christ to his disciples some 2,000 years ago, are still being heeded here in Beaufort County. They are at the heart of Matthew 25 Ministry, an outreach devoted to providing for the homeless in Washington and the surrounding area.

In addition to providing a free fellowship meal from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month, the ministry works to provide the area’s homeless residents with hygiene items, reading glasses, books, magazines, devotionals and warm clothes during the winter months. Each month, the ministry also tries to provide live music during the meal, as well as a message of hope from a local pastor or layperson.

“This whole thing is about sharing the love of Jesus with the community and bringing hope and encouragement to people who are feeling down,” Matthew 25 Ministry committee member Lorre Bowen said.

An ecumenical effort, Matthew 25 first began in 2014 as a ministry of First United Methodist Church. Its goal initially was to provide meals on the weekends for the men depending on Zion Shelter and Food Kitchen for their daily bread. Today, the effort has been adopted by a number of churches in the area, crossing denominational lines.

“That first meal that we served in July of 2014, we had 27 people show up,” committee member Shirley Stone said. “We’re now serving an average of 150 every month.”

While the meals are a welcome gift to the ministry’s guests, in many ways, the personal hygiene items, packed by Chocowinity UMC, are even more critical. Toiletries like soap, shampoo, deodorant and razors, which are often taken for granted, help instill a sense of pride in the men the ministry serves.

“We want to help bring dignity and self-respect to people that may, because of their circumstances, not feel self-respect,” Bowen said. “They need to know that the Lord loves them, but if no one is showing them that through hands-on ministries, it’s hard to believe.”

For those interested in getting involved with the ministry, there are a number of ways to do so. From providing a cook team and donating supplies to volunteering during the event, churches, civic groups, youth groups, scout troops, restaurants and individuals are all welcome to contribute. A new partnership with the AGAPE Clinic and volunteers from the Vidant medical community is also helping provide free health screenings for guests.

“As needs present themselves to us, we feel like that is what the Lord is telling us to do,” Bowen said.

Matthew 25 Ministry is supported entirely through donations and involves multiple churches in the area, including Chocowinity UMC, Trinity Episcopal, First Baptist Washington, Ware’s Chapel UMC, Church of the Good Shepherd, Church of the Covenant, St. Peter’s Episcopal.

For more information on getting involved with the ministry, call Lorre Bowen at 252-944-6548 or Shirley Stone at 252-946-4523. New cook teams are especially needed. Tax-deductible financial donations are also welcome and can be made at the FUMC church office.