PLEASANT HILL – In Exodus 16, God fed the Israelites with bread from heaven. He fed them with manna. In Northwestern Cass County, Manna Fellowship Church feeds the needy with the love of Christ—and some food. Manna Fellowship’s food pantry, located in northwestern Cass County serves roughly 400 people monthly. The pantry is not located on church grounds. Lead pastor Rick Friesen says that sixteen percent of the population in Belton live below the poverty line. It is located where it is needed. “We did it because of Matthew 5: ‘So let your light shine before men that they might see your good works and glorify your who is in heaven,’” Friesen said.
If the food pantry at Manna Fellowship seems different—that’s because it is. Many food pantries have food already packed up, and ready to go. Some may even have drive-up systems. Not at Manna. Its pantry consists of five different stations. Patrons are greeted and then signup in stations one and two. In the third station, patrons are taken to a room where they sit and talk about topics like church, life, and the Lord. In the fourth station, they are met by pantry workers that have been keeping track of prayer requests. There, if any spiritual care is needed, it is received. In the fifth stage the patrons get the groceries.
It is open from 4:30pm to 7:30pm. Orders are filled during these hours. Manna’s pantry is open once a week and it is a constant flow of people that come in to the pantry. But food and material goods is not all that is offered.
“We offer the hope of the gospel. After that we pray with them. After that we pray with them. We pray that they would accept Christ,” said Friesen. Care pastor Bill Boren says, “We have several ladies in there. One of our dear ladies, she’s in her eighties, and she has a notebook of everybody that has ever been there. And she finds out what their prayer requests are. She knows just exactly what is going on in their life.”
It is a food pantry, but also a ministry. Manna is able to pray for a variety of needs for the patrons. Friesen says that they are like a family to them and that they [pantry-goers] feel the same. The prayers also mean a lot. The pantry has resulted in much more than just food for the body.
“They are family to us and they would tell you we are family to them,” said Friesen. “We would miss our clients terribly if we didn’t see them for a while and each time they come in we get an opportunity to pray with them if their needing it. We get an opportunity share the gospel with them. Many people have accepted Christ through our food pantry.”
“We have several people that are trained in that and they just have a real heart and compassion for people to see them know Christ as their Savior, adds Boren. “it’s been a real blessing in my life,” he said.
Manna has experienced the provision of God. Before the launch, there wasn’t enough money in the missions fund to sustain such a project. But Manna stepped out in faith, and God has provided. Groceries are expensive. One such item is milk. This was true to the Manna food pantry. Then during a Bible study, Pastor Frieson mentioned the pantry and a man who does not attend the fellowship spoke up. After the study, he informed Friesen that he “has a source where we get milk and I want to supply all the milk to your food pantry.” Now milk is no longer an expense, says Friesen. “That was a huge blessing.”
Many others have volunteered and helped with pantry too. This is true of worship pastor Aaron Smith, who normally does not get to help, he says, “Last year around Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of … (helping) out the pantry for a few hours. I think we served fifty family families that afternoon.”
In John 6, Jesus tells us that He is the bread that has come down from heaven. In northwestern Cass County, Manna Fellowship Church feeds the needy and with physical food. But they don’t forget to care for them with spiritual food. They give the hope of the gospel—they’re talking about the bread from heaven.