Not Just a Soup Kitchen is David Apple's newest book for churches desperately seeking answers on how to do diaconal ministry effectively. It provides the practical tools and instructions Christians need to serve God effectively in ministry of mercy and compassion. The book doesn’t provide scholastic tools, but real life how-to information based on the experiences of success and failure. David will be holding a book signing at Tenth on September 21, at 1 PM in Reception Hall. Following is an excerpt from Not Just a Soup Kitchen which is available for preorder now and in bookstores September 16, 2014.
During a bitterly cold night in 1983, a small group of Tenth Presbyterian members was leaving the church building after Bible study when they came across a homeless person sleeping on the front church steps. The encounter sparked a response in them that meeting physical needs should be a part of the church’s mission. Tenth members were increasingly seeing the needs of street people in the area and eventually approached the church’s Board of Deacons, asking for leadership in the fulfillment of the diaconal commission for ministry to the poor. Over time a vision grew and the deacons established monthly meetings for those wanting to minister to the city’s needy. About a dozen people attended the first meeting, which was chaired by one of the deacons. This committee chose the acronym ACTS (Active Compassion Through Service) to represent the group’s expanding vision of a holistic ministry to the homeless and others with needs.
It became apparent to this concerned group of Tenth Church members that the homeless needed an ally to speak to some of their needs. Seeing the homeless and hearing the public outcry for help was an incentive and encouragement for Tenth Presbyterian Church to do something.
Many of those who are homeless have turned to many agencies for help—even churches—but believe that these organizations are all part of the problem. For some, living in an alley way, an abandoned house or on a hot air vent above the subway, is the only home they know. Greg believed he was in heaven. In his prime location in Philadelphia’s business district, he could panhandle a good $30 per hour. He “placed his pillow” above a vent with dry heat to keep him warm. His place was just outside a travel agency that had photos of exotic places in the window. And there was an awning that kept him dry when it rained. He thought he had it made, that is, until he was arrested for violating his probation. Prior to this he had many opportunities to enter a Christ-centered addiction recovery program and get his life together, but decided to against it. Now, arrested, he was on his way to prison, where God was as present as when Greg lived on the street. In prison, he “messed around” with Islam for a while, but that soon became distasteful to him. And then he met Jesus and his life changed completely and we continued to minister to him and visit.
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