About two weeks ago Matthew and Marion Peake were feeding children in one of their regular feeding locations in East London when children from another area also arrived and they could not help them because they did not have enough bowls.
Matthew saw a few small boys scratching in a rubbish dump for containers that could be used to receive food and said that in that moment he was “train-wrecked” by the children’s desperation and could not stop thinking of them for days afterwards.
About a week later, while he was making a video for Marion, with whom he has been serving desperately-needy people for the past four years, he said the Holy Spirit literally gave him detailed instructions on how to start and implement a “Bowl of Hope” campaign to feed hungry children.
“So pretty much the very next day I went and got prices. I couldn’t find people to do all the stuff needed — and then ‘bang’, just like that everything fell in place and we launched our first product into four different Spar stores here in town.
“So people can buy a Bowl of Hope, which is a bowl, a spoon, a cup, a facecloth and a soap. Then they donate it [the Bowl of Hope package] back to the store and we go and give it to one of the children in the eight different feeding programme we have in the city — and the money goes into making more bowls and buying meat and vegetables which we cook to feed those communities six days a week,” he said.
He said that through their NPO, Helping Those in Need, they currently feed 5 000 children a week and the number is growing rapidly because many people are losing their jobs because of Covid-19.
Stepping out in faith to provide practical support and the message of the Gospel to people in need has been the hallmark of the Peake’s ministry which they launched in the beginning of 2017 when they posted a Facebook message offering to help anybody in need and spent their last R100 to feed a family who messaged them that their children hadn’t eaten in days.
Matthew said after God inspired him with the Bowls of Hope vision they sought financial support to launch the campaign.
“But no finances came in and the Lord just said: ‘I need you to do this one on your own and we did and all of a sudden the doors opened and now we are into a few stores for starters.”
He said he was amazed when the first Spar he approached agreed to stock the bowls with no hesitation and the next one immediately said they would stock them at their three stores in the city.
The couple lost no time in investing their available money into putting about 250 Bowl of Hope packages into the four stores.
Matthew said people in East London can buy bowls at Amalinda Super Spar, Vincent Super Spar, Nahoon Spar and Southernwood Spar. Anybody can also buy a Bowl of Hope directly online on the Helping Those in Need website.
But the initiative is bigger than the Peake’s feeding ministry and their dream is to get Bowl of Hope packages into other areas too.
“The idea of this initiative is we don’t want to be limited to where we can help people. If we can help other NPOs who are doing the same sort of work that we are doing then we can try and help them and they can become ambassadors for the Bowl of Hope.
“If they are in other areas, we want to say: ‘Here is the product. We want to help sustain you guys. Get it out there. This could be quite an amazing thing not just in East London but around the country,” he said.
2020 has been a busy year for Matthew and Marion who were among the first people to be serving on the streets of East London after lockdown was implemented in March.
Matthew recalls listening at home to President Ramaphosa calling on South Africans to stay at home. His first thought was that they would obey the president.
“Then I asked myself: “Who is going to feed the homeless people if nobody is filling up the dustbins any more? And it was in that moment that I said to Marion: ‘We can’t just sit here and do nothing.’
“So, she said: ‘You know what, I’m going to cook a pot of food and tomorrow; you start feeding the homeless.’
“And we literally started the next day and the crazy thing is I knew it was Jesus because we had favour with the police and the army. Everyone who saw us on the street said: ‘You guys. you go ahead and you help the guys on the street.’
“So we just had favour from the beginning and the doors opened. I don’t know how many people we fed during Covid. We distributed 35 000 food parcels. We probably fed more than a million people during Covid, by God’s grace — His outpouring of resources. So, thank you Jesus.”
Currently Matthew and Marion are working hard to prepare for seven Christmas parties they are hosting this month.