Eighteen months ago, River of Life (Oahu, Hawaii) launched a new way of doing ministry in response to city and downtown businesses expressing concern about the negative impact its 3-meal-a-day program had on their community. “We wanted to continue … serving people on the streets, but we also wanted to be good neighbors. We realized we needed to decentralize, to minister to smaller groups in different locations so we didn’t disrupt the community,” said Executive Director Paul Gates. Rather than serving three meals directly from its Chinatown building every weekday, it now uses the facility to cook hundreds of hot meals which get delivered to a rotation of 79 different Oahu church, business, and nonprofit partners they call hub spots. Through this “Meals and Ministry” (or “M&M”) program, 98 people have already transitioned off the streets this year. That compares to the previous 35 years, when a good year would have seen nine to 10 people make that transition. Volunteers at each hub spot make a concerted effort to connect with each individual they serve to get a better understanding of what each needs to improve his or her situation. The mission used to work with about 2,000 volunteers who helped at the Chinatown headquarter facility every year, but the new approach now has about 6,000 people annually who deploy to the different mobile hub spots or help with one-time outreach events. River of Life has assembled a 16-lesson plan as a template for other communities to learn how to set up their own mobile, hub spot programs.
Consider: If your ministry could benefit from the lessons learned and methodologies developed at River of Life, contact Paul Gates today.
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