A local homeless shelter is embarking on a compassionate mission to feed more hungry Oklahomans than ever before.
City Rescue Mission launched its FeedOKCNow initiative with a street party on Monday at the shelter, 800 W California.
The Rev. Tom Jones, the mission's president and CEO, said the initiative has several components, including the faith-based shelter's goal of feeding about 675,000 people by Dec. 31.
Jones said he'd like to see the shelter provide food to more than 1 million people during 2013 and that goal may be accomplished through City Rescue Mission's new food center. The poor and homeless may visit the center to select nutritious food to feed their families in a grocery store atmosphere. Jones said a grand opening for the nonprofit's Impact Hunger Food Resource Center will be soon.
Jones and the mission's staff hosted a Monday gathering for the shelter's residents and local church congregations who supported the mission's efforts to aid the homeless and down and out. About 250 people gathered blankets and lawn chairs on a grassy knoll in the center of the mission's parking lot, where Christian recording artist Charlie Hall led a stirring set of praise and worship songs.
The keynote speaker for the event, preacher Francis Chan, encouraged the crowd to conquer their fears about spreading the Gospel and Christ's love.
Chan, founder of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Calif., and Eternity Bible College, said that he is currently reaching out to nonbelievers living in the inner city of San Francisco. He is a member of the board of directors for both the Children's Hunger Fund and World Impact.
Chan urged the group gathered Monday to ignore those around them who might say their approach to sharing God's love is “radical.”
“They try to calm you down. They say you don't have to be so radical,” Chan said.
He also said he believes the Lord's vision for Oklahoma City's Christian community is one of unity, so churches need to work together.
“I would love to see you striving with one mind, not divided by anything, not frightened by anything,” Chan said. “I want you to live by faith. If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Meanwhile, Jones said he hopes the mission, through the FeedOKCNow campaign, will partner with the faith community and the community-at-large to raise funds to combat hunger in the metro area. He said last year, City Rescue Mission served more than 400 men, women and children daily through its various programs, and provided about 300,000 meals to the homeless in the community.
The Rev. Todd Theissen, pastor of Summit Church in Newcastle, said he attended Monday's event because he and his congregation support City Rescue Mission's efforts to aid the poor and homeless.
“We believe in everything the rescue mission does. We believe they have the premiere ministry to the homeless in this community,” Theissen said.
The preacher said he was inspired by Chan's message urging churches to unify and act with courage.
“We want to be a part of anything that is calling this city to action,” he said.