This week our thoughts have turned towards the story of the disciples walking along the Emmaus road. A familiar Easter story in Luke 24, particularly dear to those of us from the Emmaus Christian Centre with our strap line ‘walking together with Jesus’.
Last week we were talking with Liz from One Big Family about the work they are doing now. A small group of OBF volunteers are supporting the homeless people who are in temporary accommodation at a hotel in Gillingham. Members of the team are with them 24/7.
OBF continue to use the Emmaus Centre as their base to get clothes and food to those in need, including preparing and delivering food parcels. As the weeks of lock down have gone on their focus of who is in greatest need has shifted. A co-ordinated effort is ensuring that the various organisations are directing the focus towards different groups to try to ensure everyone who is struggling to get food receive the help they need. OBF recognised that a group which has had little support from the Government so far is self employed people and so their food parcels are targeting these families.
Liz told us how they had done one big supermarket shop to stock up on essentials and weren’t looking forward to the next time they would have to do this, partly because of some of the comments about ‘hoarders’ from others in the supermarket queue. At the time when they thought they couldn’t put it off any longer they had a call from a Food Bank from another Kent town who had surplus supplies and were able to do a delivery to them. Then at the end of last week the same Food Bank rang again; ‘Would they like some more’ and on Monday this week a significant delivery of vital supplies was received at Emmaus.
Last week the Elders at Emmaus agreed to give a donation from one of our charitable accounts of £1,000 to support the work of the Food Bank in Medway. Liz confirmed that Medway Food Bank’s resources are stretched and passing a couple of food bank centres recently we have seen queues of people outside waiting for essential supplies. The latest we have heard is that the centres are being closed and food parcel distribution is being carried out by British Gas.
This speaks to us of people walking together with Jesus; whether they know him or not they are doing his work of clothing, feeding, and providing shelter for those in need.
What about each of you? How is your journey of ‘walking together with Jesus’? We are all missing being able to do what we would normally do: meeting friends and family; being able to pop out for coffee; having a hug; gathering together for worship at Emmaus on a Sunday. And so, during this time our journey is more solitary than usual and for many loneliness is a struggle. Other people may be out of reach but our Lord Jesus is always there walking beside us. It is up to us to make the time in our day to give him space, and just as the two who walked along the Emmaus road so long ago, to listen to him as he teaches us about himself.
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32
One thing that you can do is continue to phone and text each other and pray with or for one another. And in your prayers please remember the volunteers of One Big Family who continue to walk alongside those in need.
Graham and Katy Hill