Grace’s Kitchen is the calling on the lives of two Birmingham, Alabama, women who desire to follow God in obedience. While serving in a soup kitchen on a mission trip to Louisville, Kentucky, we knew we were supposed to feed people. While pondering what the Spirit was calling us to do, we understood that we were to serve food to those in need with dignity and respect. We also knew that food was a vehicle for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
After returning home from the trip, we began to pray, research, and dream about what this calling looked like. We wanted to create a feeding ministry that would generate funds for its operations; the concept of a pay-as-you-can restaurant was really appealing. During the research, we came across SAME Café in Denver, Colorado, which was successfully operating on this model. In March 2010, we visited SAME and its owners Brad and Libby Birky to get a first-hand look at how the restaurant worked, everything from working with volunteers and creating menus to financial specifics.
Because a restaurant is a long-term project, we prayed that God would show us what our first steps in ministry should be. In October 2009, Grace’s Kitchen began serving breakfast once a week in Linn Park in downtown Birmingham. Each person is served a hot breakfast and also receives a lunch bag to take with him or her; included in each food bag is a handwritten Bible verse. A team of volunteers serves in the park each Thursday. While there, the team gathers those who have come to eat for a time of scripture reading, singing, and prayer.
In the three years since God called us to start this ministry, He has continued to open doors for serving. After the devastating tornados in Alabama on April 27, 2011, Grace’s Kitchen served for three months in communities affected by the storms, first to those who lost their homes and then to groups who were helping to clean up and rebuild. Grace’s Kitchen has also partnered with local ministries to provide food to those in need, in the form of dinners, sack lunches for vacation Bible schools, and snacks for children camps. Currently GK serves breakfast to GED students at a local education ministry three days a week in addition to the breakfasts in the park. Wherever Grace’s Kitchen serves, our goal to make sure that God’s love is being shared with those who receive food. Grace’s Kitchen is based on biblical principles and desires to answer the call in Isaiah 1:17: “Work for justice. Help the down and out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.” We intentionally seek to build relationships with those we serve and to share the gospel with them.
The concept of a pay-as-you-can restaurant is still part of the vision, but the fulfillment is in God’s hands. We know this ministry is about being obedient to follow wherever He leads. God’s faithfulness, provision, and direction in Grace’s Kitchen are humbling and overwhelming! In 2012, construction was completed on the ministry’s commercial kitchen in Bessemer, which opens up more potential for serving. To God alone be the glory!