During the school year, the parking lot of the Bozeman Church is a busy place around lunchtime. Located next to the public high school, the church parking lot is like a rush-hour highway as students head to their cars or the local McDonalds located on the street next to the church.
The members often wondered how they could deal with the problems that come with being in such a high-traffic area. Some of the church's stairwells were being used for smoking and drug use, and the grounds were littered with a lot of garbage. One solution was to try to keep the kids off the church grounds entirely.
But the church members came up with a better idea. They would give free lunches to the students who passed through the parking lot.
With each lunch, they would also give away some literature on topics ranging from salvation to tobacco and substance abuse. Free Bibles and other books would be available at the lunch table as well.
In May of 2006, the idea became a reality. Subway agreed to provide sandwiches and, with chips and a bottle of water, the lunches were complete. So far, last school year and this year, lunches were handed out seven times. More than 40 students were served each time.
The response of the kids was great. They couldn't believe someone wanted to give them a free lunch.
The church also decided to have a giveaway as part of the lunch program. The most recent giveaway was a drawing for three ski passes donated by an area ski resort. On the entry form for the drawing there was a place for the students to request prayer. They could also sign up for Bible studies or a stop-smoking seminar.
More than 60 kids signed up for the ski passes and around 30 of those marked down their desire for prayer, Bible studies or help to stop smoking. When contacted about the stop-smoking seminar, one student had already quit smoking with the help from the flier in his lunch sack.
The members hope that this is just the beginning and are excited to find out what God will do next with this outreach. In the meantime, the stop-smoking seminar began at the end of November, and the church is praying for the students who have requested Bible studies.
As far as the problems in the stairwells and with the litter, things have improved, proving once again that the love of God is always a good solution.