St. Croix members team up to feed the homeless

Since late 2021, Sabbath School members at Peter’s Rest Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands have been helping the homeless with meals in the town of Christiansted, in coordination with Lighthouse Mission, a non-profit organization on the island. . The two organizations partner to provide meals two or three times a month.

Lighthouse Mission is a faith-based community service center committed to enriching people’s lives by serving, encouraging, teaching and challenging children and adults to find meaning and purpose in life through faith. In the past, the mission offered a refuge for children, with extracurricular activities. That service has been halted pending renovations to the building, which has been hit by hurricanes in recent years, mission leaders said.

Young people pause to pray before helping to feed the homeless on World Youth Day in March 2022. [Photo: North Caribbean Conference]

When Earl Daniel, former pastor of Peter’s Rest Church, asked the church board for approval for the partnership, the board unanimously agreed. “You could feel the Holy Spirit in the room at that board meeting. How could we not serve the community? he said.

Five groups of church members organized as part of a community service initiative provide supplies and prepare meals at the center every second and fourth Sunday of each month. They can connect and encourage guests and hold worship services in the open pavilion in the center courtyard, church leaders said. Sometimes the mission asks the Adventist group to attend on a third Sunday of the month. The center also serves as a food and clothing distribution site.

Henry Peters, Sabbath School director for the Adventist Church’s North Caribbean Conference (NCC), said he was pleased with the local church’s response. “The church must respond to the needs of people in the community, and we must be good, cooperative citizens,” Peters said. Jesus instructed his people to care for each other, he added. “This initiative is a great example of how Jesus ministered while on earth, as Jesus met people’s needs and loved them before sharing the Word with them.”

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Hot meal prepared by Peters Rest Adventist Church Sabbath School members for homeless people visiting the Lighthouse Mission in Christiansted, St. Croix. [Photo: North Caribbean Conference]

“We praise the Lord for the partnership we have with the community,” said Abraham Kennedy, pastor of Southgate Baptist Church and director of Lighthouse Mission. “It’s great to share the space, to make a difference in the community.” Kennedy has been at the church for 13 years and said the center has been helping those in need for 27 years. “It’s a common ground for people to come and share.”

Lillian Jeffers, Sabbath School leader at Peter’s Rest Adventist Church, was already volunteering at Lighthouse Mission before the partnership began in August 2021. “Over the past two years, I have personally volunteered at the Lighthouse when I lost my job in 2020,” she said. “It is very rewarding to have my church alongside this ministry.”

The group serves 20 to 30 meals each Sunday, she added. “People looking forward to the hot meal frequent the town of Christiansted, sleeping wherever they can lay their heads. When they arrive in the morning, we see that they are not rested.

Youth ministries leaders at Peter’s Rest Church recently assembled a group of young people who chose the center as a location they wanted to enjoy during the Adventist Church’s Global Youth Day activities in March 2022.

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Sabbath School members at Peter’s Rest Adventist Church in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, serve take-out trays after preparing dozens of hot meals for homeless people who visit the flagship mission each week. [Photo: North Caribbean Conference]

“We want kids to be exposed to real-life situations,” Jeffers said. “We encourage parents to bring their children with them for the ministry opportunity. It’s good to see happy faces on those who come to the center and receive help.

Herman Ravariere, former Adventist congregation leader, said partnerships with other community organizations are key to building relationships in the community. “If one of us walks down the street and sees people, they know us. Those connections are wonderful. He tells people, “Hey, Adventists care!”

Adventists from several sister churches of the Holy Cross support the community service initiative and partnership with Lighthouse Mission each month.

Ending homelessness may not be possible, Jeffers said. “We know it’s not going to happen, but we’re going to take a big chunk of it.”

Peter’s Rest Adventist Church suffered extensive damage when a fire broke out in the sanctuary in 2020. Now the 300 members meet downstairs and under a tent erected to spill out outside.

the original version of this story was published on the Inter-American Division news sites.

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