When an Eastern Cape pastor discovered homeless people sleeping outside a building he was renting to launch a church, he responded by starting a soup kitchen.
Today the original small East London soup kitchen started in 2016 has grown into the Hands of Mercy project which feeds, clothes and shelters 200 homeless people — some of whom have since turned away from bondage to drugs and given their lives to Christ.
The project founder and general overseer of Spirit Life Mega Church, Prophet Jay Israel Senior, also took a formerly homeless man known as Kholekile into his family. Church members who saw him before he was cleaned and shaved could not recognise him the next day, and the gifted young man who once abused drugs and alcohol and scrounged from dustbins to survive, now serves the Lord as a church usher.
Commenting on his initial response to finding young and old men sleeping outside the church in 2016, Israel said, “Our Saviour taught that those whose discipleship would lead them to care for the poor and the needy would inherit eternal life, while those that would not, could not inherit the same blessings.
“Caring for the poor and the needy is then essential to our progression and salvation.”
He said in the early days the soup kitchen fed a handful of homeless people who were transported from the city streets to church every Saturday. They included men and women mixed up with drugs or in conflict with the law.
“The Word of God instructs us to take care of the poor, as the earthly possessions we now own come from Him. So The Hands of Mercy will continue to not only provide a safe haven for the homeless but will continue to guide them through the path of rightesousness” he said.