The Joel Nafuma Refugee Center welcomes all to breakfast in the Center Monday – Saturday. On Sundays, one of our nearby sister churches, the Chiesa Evangelica Metodista di Roma (Italian Methodist Church of Rome) prepares and brings breakfast to those who live on the streets in our neighborhood. (They adopted the name “Breakfast Time” from a ministry used by the Italian Methodist congregation in Milan.) A rotating crew of five prepare sandwiches and coffee at 07:00, hit the road and are usually done well before morning services. On Palm Sunday, a parishioner and I joined them.
The parish began this ministry a year ago, and what I learned as I met their extended family on the streets is that they have built relationships of kindness and trust with people who have precious few of either. The simple meal we offered, while welcomed as nutrition, also created a sacramental space where faith, hope and love could deepen as we encountered Christ in each other. That we do this by going out and walking also brings to mind other facets of what is means to be a People of the Way.
While the populations we serve are not identical, the ministries of Breakfast Time and the JNRC breakfasts are related. We are each seeking to build relationships between those with shelter and security and those without. Such reconciling relationships have the power to transform and save. They are fundamental to the reign of God. Sharing our experiences and exploring synergies in this kingdom work can help make our ministries more effective, and strengthen the bonds uniting the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. And, on a personal note, I look forward to a few more opportunities before I leave this place to walk with my sisters and brothers as they proclaim this early Sunday morning Gospel.