It is truly awesome to watch how God brings the right people and resources together to realise the vision of providing 200 (or more) broken and destitute people in Port Elizabeth with a day filled with hope, encouragement and assurance that Jesus loves and cares for them, said Matthew lunch organiser, Graham Ries.
Ries, who was once homeless himself, envisioned the first Matthew Lunch which was held at the Lighthouse Family Church in 2009, catering for 56 guests. He said God spoke to him again last year, telling him to reach out to 200 people in 2013 — and arrangements are in full swing to treat 200 guests to a 3-course lunch, haircuts, showers, beauty treatment, new clothes and more at the Matthew Lunch 2013 at Fountain Vineyard Church in Miramar/Walmer Heights on Saturday (September 21).
Ries said when he first shared his vision some people advised him that 200 people was too many and that he would be wise to scale down to about 100.
“Every time someone suggested this to me, I could feel the Holy Spirit in me resist, in effect saying that He has told me to care for 200 and I dare not reach out to one person less. More He had no problem with, but less, and I’d be being disobedient again.”
Having would up on the street himself through his disobedience to the Lord once before; the last thing he was going to be was disobedient again, he said. And so Ries contacted people and started collecting stuff for the Matthew Lunch 2013.
He said the requirements for the Matthew Lunch literally started to pour into his flat, as well as that of Adele Liebich, his right hand woman. Clothing came in in piles, in black bags, weighing several kilogrammes. Cosmetics came in. People picked up the challenge right across the City of Port Elizabeth. A school phoned and offered to buy all of the toilet paper that would be needed. Another woman bought ball point pens for every guest so write out their CV information with. People who work at SABCO, the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Port Elizabeth volunteered their own personal vouchers to give the delegates at the Matthew Lunch cool drinks.
“God has indeed provided everything from three, huge 69-seater buses, to the musicians, right down to the ball point pens that the delegates will need to fill out the information for the CVs (which will go on a website for free download by any prospective employer) to the toilet paper that they will use,” said Ries.
Pete Gooch, of Burn247 PE, who is coordinating the music programme for the day said: “The while vision is to soak this day in worship! It;s really about His presence invading 200 homeless people’s lives.”
Worship teams from various churches will collaborate to play outside as the guest arrive, then move indoors to a stage and then to a loft area above the stage. The programme also includes testimonies and drama.