Members at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Perth’s north-eastern suburb of Morley are called to share the Bread of Life with their community.
Sharing this bread, the grace of the triune God, is part of their mission statement, and their aim to live by this creed is reflected through their actions.
It is echoed through the more than 20 loaves of bread and 200 pancakes that they prepare each week for more than 120 local secondary school students.
Since mid-2016, a small band of trusty retirees, led by Bethlehem’s pastor, has been serving a weekly breakfast to students at the local Hampton Senior High School.
Morley Pastor Matthew Bishop coordinates the ministry with Didier Mutanda, the chaplain of the school, which is located in an area with some socio-economic challenges.
The congregation’s financial, labour and in-kind support has ensured the school’s Year 6 to 12 students receive hearty breakfast offerings, including toasted sandwiches, pancakes, cereal, juice, and warming Milo.
Roslyn Zadow and her husband John were the first to answer the call for help and have been enthusiastic supporters of the breakfast club ever since. ‘I couldn’t do it without their support’, says Pastor Matt.
Each week, loaves of bread are turned into 120 scrambled egg and cheese toasties and three packets of flour are transformed into 200 pancakes, all washed down with 16 litres of hot Milo.
‘The most popular offering on the menu are the scrambled egg and cheese toasted sandwiches’, 72-year-old Roslyn says. ‘They go as quick as they are made. Sometimes there’s a queue of 10 or 20 waiting, with three cooks going simultaneously.’
The students are all smiling when they come for breakfast, she says, and even teachers occasionally enjoy the generosity of the group.
Donated by Morley members, Milo is brought to the church altar each Sunday with the offering, along with other food hamper items donated to the congregation’s Bethlehem Community Care, another of Roslyn’s volunteer oversight roles.
‘Each week we bless whatever donations come in as part of blessing the offerings’, Pastor Matt says, which is a great way of bringing the congregation with the breakfast club in its ministry.
The ministry is indeed a team affair. Fellow congregational helper Chris Kempin arrives at the school just after 7am each week to set up, making the best pancake mix and strong, hot Milo, which is adored by the students. Wally and Jutta Chrulew scramble eggs on the barbecue for the toasted sandwiches and usually run another couple of toasters. Wally is also loved by school staff for cleaning up litter after each breakfast.
Chris had just finished working in an office job 12 months ago when Pastor Matt was looking for volunteers for the breakfast club. Her involvement has not only given her a new appreciation for people who work in hospitality, but also provides her with a support group and other benefits beyond the provision of breakfast.
‘There’s a mutual benefit – it benefits me as it gives me something purposeful to do, and it gives me an opportunity to contribute something’, she says. ‘It’s heartwarming that we can do something to help those who are really in need.’
Didier says the breakfast also provides a sense of care and love to the students, as well as helping those who are genuinely in need.
‘Giving to our students every week is giving them free breakfast, and is also a big way of demonstrating our care and our love to the students’, he says. ‘In the past two years the breakfast club has increased from about 20 to 100-plus every week.
‘Chris’s pancakes are so good that the demand for them has increased so much! We’ve moved from one pack of flour each week to three, two loaves of bread to 24 … that in itself is a positive response to what the breakfast club team is doing.
‘The team are just gorgeous and I can’t describe how much of a help we get from them. I’ve seen a servant heart in all of them. It is very humbling and we’re very grateful as a school.’
The congregation not only provides breakfasts, but also directly supports the work of Didier, and keeps him, and the school, in its prayers weekly.
Roslyn also appreciates the opportunity to serve. ‘I like volunteering as you are getting out and mixing with other people, and you are benefitting some of the children who are without food’, she says.
A foundational member of the small congregation of about 60 regular worshippers, Roslyn has lived most of her adult life in the area.
Her service also extends to chairing Bethlehem’s Ladies Fellowship and Lutheran Women of WA, after a nursing career in child health and as the Morley congregation’s parish nurse.
And now she is glad to be able to give back to her local community through the breakfast club, which also provides food hampers to school families in need through Didier.
‘I truly believe that God has given me so much, I can give my small amount of time to help those less fortunate’, Roslyn says. It all comes back to God’s amazing grace, which also brings to mind one of Roslyn’s favourite hymns.
Helen Beringen is a Townsville-based communications advisor who has been richly blessed through a career as a wordsmith. She is inspired by the many GREYT people who serve tirelessly and modestly in our community. She hopes by sharing stories of how God shines his light through them, others will be inspired to share his light in the world.
Know of any other GREYT stories in your local community? Email the editor email@example.com
This feature story comes from The Lutheran July 2018. Visit the website to find out more about The Lutheran or to subscribe.