“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.” Matthew 25:35
For The Bridge, a community church at 901 North Stewart St., in the middle of Carson City, the call to feed those in need happened in a simple way although it may be hard for some to understand.
“It was one of those God moments,” said the church’s pastor, Randy Roser.
From that “God moment” has raised a ministry in which The Bridge provides dinner for more than 100 people a night, five nights a week. So each weeknight, the church becomes sort of a rescue mission in which it doesn’t just feed those who come, but also shares its message.
Or as Roser puts it relating what has been the reaction from those who are fed, the church has given them the chance “to see what Jesus looks like.”
For nearly five years, the ministry began in February, 2010, The Bridge has been feeding those in need in the community. “We didn’t have any money,” said Roser when the church decided to begin the ministry.
The church managed to raise $25,000 and came across a 16-foot long by eight-foot wide trailer for sale in Red Bluff, Calif. The owner wanted $50,000. Roser said the church had just half that to which the owner replied that was enough.
The ministry began with a $2,000 check from a homeless woman attending the church. Roser told the woman he would hold onto the check for a week just in case she changed her mind. But after a week, the homeless woman was still adament her check go to the ministry.
Now the operation of the trailer is totally funded by the community, with no funds having to come from the church’s general fund. “Sometimes people just stop by,” said Roser about those who make contributions.
Many businesses contribute to the operation, including Costco.
“Costco’s a huge help for us,” Roser said.
Roser was adamant the operation wouldn’t just become a soup kitchen, but that high quality food would be served and plenty of food would be served those being served. Holly Johnson, who’s been homeless for 5 1/2 years and said she’s on her way to working herself out of homelessness, said the food that comes out of the trailer meets that standard.
“The food is awesome,” she said. “It’s so good.”
Typical items served include burritos, pasta such as chicken Alfredo and spaghetti, tacos, chicken pot pie. Dinners served also include dessert.
The trailer is a complete, functional kitchen with a grill, two ovens and a small refrigerator that takes up little space but stores plenty. The meals are also served out of the trailer, with the church’s upstairs serving as storage for much of what’s in the trailer. All of the trailer’s operations and meals have met the city’s health code requirements at a 100 percent level.
Johnson said she’s impressed with how Carson City has come together to provide something like this, adding she never had anything like this when she lived in Colorado.
“I think this is the most awesome thing I’ve seen for the homeless by a city,” she said.
Those seeking a meal begin lining up at about 4:45 p.m. and meals are served from 5 to 6. Before the first meal is served, an opening prayer is given, and a couple of members of the church talk to those in line and share the church’s message when appropriate.
“They keep coming for the fellowship,” said Roser about those who are served. He added it’s the church’s responsibility to “influence the community and our culture.”
More than 20 church members volunteer to work in the ministry. Roser said the church also works with and shares resources with the community’s two of the community’s other major organizations who help the needy, FISH and the Ron Wood Center.
Joe Clark, who teaches at Carson Middle School, comes to the church as soon as he can at about 3:30 Tuesdays and Wednesdays to help prepare and serve the food.
When asked how rewarded the ministry was to him, Clark said, “I believe on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s up there with a 10.”
But Clark also said this about how rewarding the ministry is: “Rewarding is simply doing the Lord’s will.”
It’s a sentiment fellow church member Domiinic Martinelli, who was talking to those being served Wednesday night, also expressed.
“I don’t quite know how to answer that question,” said Martinelli when asked how rewarding the ministry was. “I would say it’s a huge part of who we are. God’s calling us to do it. I’ve been able to develop relationships I don’t think I would have ever had.”