For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink…And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:35, 40)
The St. Stephen’s Film Club for the homeless and vulnerable met each Monday evening in 2014 except for Easter Monday, the month of August and December 29th. Typically, we serve dinner to 70-80 guests each evening with the help of 10-15 volunteers. Our guests are a broad spectrum of vulnerable people from West London as we have those who are homeless, out of work, with mental health or addiction issues, struggling financially, or just lonely. Our partnership with the charity, Streetlytes, continues as they provide the funds for the food and coordinate the cooks for each evening.
Typically, the volunteer cooks for the evening arrive about 3pm to beginning the process of preparing the evening meal. At 4pm volunteers set up tables for the evening meal, the dinner is served at 6pm, the movie is started at 6:15pm and final clean-up begins when the movie finishes about 8pm.
We watched a wide spectrum of films but there is no doubt that action movies in the line of James Bond or Iron Man continue to be the favorites of our guests. Our volunteer responsible for the movies, Amy Shearing, has broadened our selection to include some comedy and drama which this year even included a cartoon – “Up!”
The Greenlight Medical van visited every other week to attend to the medical needs of those who had health questions and twice during the year the NHS TB van stopped by to screen for tuberculosis. Twice in the summer a BBQ dinner was cooked by an American team coordinated by New City Church. Our Christmas dinner was attended by over 110 guests and 25 volunteers on December 22nd at which we were able to give away many sleeping bags, clothes, and toiletries.
There were a few problems during the year but none which were beyond what would be expected when dealing with a broken and vulnerable population. Once or twice the police visited us, but generally, the evenings have been peaceful.
Honestly, sometimes Monday evenings are difficult as I meet so many broken people and often have no immediate answer for their problems. But as we talk, pray, serve hot meals, watch a movie and occasionally provide additional assistance, I am encouraged and God reminds me of the reason we are there: “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”