Reflecting on our first Thanksgiving Lakewood Outreach. The temperature was freezing, with a chill factor of 16 degrees. With the ‘Son’ shining in the hearts of over 70 volunteers, we brought the love of Jesus to the Township of Lakewood. The common thought was, “If homeless people can live in this cold, we can certainly go for four hours and bring them a hot meal and a warm coat.”
When we arrived with the truck at 11:00 am, about 20 homeless people were waiting for us. They were literally putting coats on as we unloaded them from the truck. It was quite emotionally moving. From the start, we were glad to be there!
During the course of the day, over 500 people came into the Square. We served a hot turkey dinner, with all the fixings. Tables and chairs were set up in the middle of the square, and while they ate, testimonies were shared, prayer was going forth, and music filled the air. There was prayer for jobs, families, finances, healing, and salvation, and we received many praise reports.
Along with the hot meal, over 500 coats, plus hats, gloves, scarves, and blankets were given out. Many received Christ as their Lord and Savior. Everyone who came was given a Bible in either English or Spanish. We actually ran out of Spanish Bibles!
We thank God for the opportunity to serve the hurting and lost of Lakewood. Jesus said “the fields are white unto harvest.” The hearts in Lakewood are ready! Will you go?
“Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest” (John 4:35b).
Lakewood, New Jersey is a community like none other. It is rich in culture and diversity. In Lakewood, you will find the largest population of Hasidic Jews in the Northeast, as well as the largest rabbinical school in the world. Jews come from all over the globe to study in Lakewood. The Jewish population, which includes Orthodox, Conservative and Reformed Jews, in addition to the Hasidim, is surrounded by a large Hispanic community numbering over 25,000 people from Mexico, Central and South America. Amid all this culture, you will find the homeless, living in tents in the woods around the township. In the heart of downtown Lakewood, you’ll find a Catholic college and a home for the mentally handicapped. Alongside this ever-growing population is an African American community, mixed with a sprinkling of people from Poland, Germany and Russia. The Lord has truly brought the nations into our back yard!
Our “Lakewood Outreaches” provide an awesome opportunity to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to this diverse population. The people of Lakewood are extremely open and hungry for the love of God. In Lakewood, you feel like you’re on an overseas mission trip. There is much poverty; many are bound by alcohol, prostitution, drugs, and witchcraft. Throughout the year, outreaches are held at the Town Square in downtown Lakewood. Working together, we provide food, clothing, toys, coats, school supplies, and Bibles to the less fortunate in the Lakewood area. First and foremost, we demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ to the community, serving them and presenting the gospel. This is all made possible through the help of over 70 volunteers, and the generous donations of many people, ministries, restaurants and businesses.
In the past several years, we have given away thousands of coats to the underprivileged in Lakewood. At our November Outreach, homeless people were waiting for coats in frigid temperatures, which they put on as quickly as we took them off the truck. It was an extremely emotional and moving time. We served a hot Thanksgiving meal to the over 500 people who came to the Square that day.
In the fall, we do a “Back to School Outreach,” providing backpacks filled with school supplies for the children. The Grace and Peace Youth Drama and Dance teams and our DJ provide an exhilarating presentation of the gospel, which always draws a crowd, along with the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers cooking on our grills. Many people share their testimonies and there is always a simple evangelistic message, along with prayer. We offer Spanish translation and everyone who comes to the Square receives a Bible. The Word of God is being sown into the community and we are seeing results.
The needs in the community are endless. The harvest is truly ready! During the past several years, many have given their lives to Jesus Christ as Savior. With each Outreach, we find the numbers increasing. Thousands of Bibles have been distributed through these Outreaches. At our last Outreach, we actually ran out of Spanish Bibles!
We continually receive testimonies from those we’ve ministered to. Many have been saved, healed, delivered, and found jobs after prayer at an Outreach. One woman who was prayed for at our May Outreach came back in July to share her testimony! She said she felt fire go all over her body; she was saved and healed of back pain that day. To God be the glory!
Many alcoholics have received prayer for their addiction. A married couple prayed together to give their lives to Jesus. The children love to play and dance at the Outreaches – there is always a celebration when souls come to Christ and needs are met, both spiritually and practically. We never leave without people asking us when we will be coming back.
Jesus said in Matthew 9:37, “The harvest is truly plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Many volunteers and donations are needed; working together, these Outreaches are possible. LAKEWOOD NEEDS YOU… what is your part in this ministry?