Editor's note: Cliff and Joyce Munroe experienced major flooding to their home in 2007 and discovered a wealth of knowledge to help with the current renovation of Gospel Mission.
Early in January 2022, floodwaters reached almost four feet inside the Lewis County Gospel Mission building in Chehalis, Washington.
Between the floodwaters and the resulting power cut to refrigerators and freezers, the mission lost 90% of its food supply. Many other supplies were also discarded, including most of its clothing inventory.
In the days following the flood, Chehalis Church members joined volunteers from the community to help with recovery efforts. Together, they removed damaged goods, power-washed racks, washed kitchen utensils and made take-out meals to deliver to homeless camps.
The church also assisted with financial donations to replenish kitchen supplies. By mid-March, hot meal service resumed, while repair efforts continued.
The Lewis County Gospel Mission was established in 1996 by a group of Christian men involved in jail ministry.
Today, it has expanded into a multi-outreach program providing more than 3,000 meals a month to the local homeless population and low-income residents.
The mission provides a hot breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday and a hot breakfast and sack lunch every Saturday and Sunday. In addition, packaged food, clothing, bedding, backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, bus passes and showers are made available to those in need.
For a number of years, Chehalis Church members have formed teams to provide the meals for the first Sunday of every month. One team is assigned to make and serve a hot breakfast, the other to deliver well-stocked sack lunches to be given to the guests.
Even during the peak of the pandemic, when communal dining was closed, hot meals were provided in take-out containers along with a sack lunch. Guest numbers on the weekends, mostly affected by the weather, range from about 25 to over 70.
Interactions between volunteers and mission guests are a shared blessing. The quiet 'thank you' with a served meal, the shy smile of appreciation as the food is dished up, speaks volumes to volunteers. In one small way, sharing the life exemplified by Christ by serving those in need allows Chehalis members to grow their faith and strengthen bonds with the community outside the church building walls.
Serving those in need presents an important question to ask ourselves. Do I reach out to that homeless or hurting friend in my community who will benefit from my shared unconditional friendship and love?