Humble Beginnings like Biscuits from the Oven

When I began attending Church under the Bridge, my intention was merely inquisitive at the beginning. Who was this pastor who held a church service by a creek? Who came to the service? Where were the camps? Who wandered in? Who praised God under this roadway?
On my first meeting that Saturday (he’d started having service just weeks prior back then), I remember a man beating a box like a drum, the chairs, the group of new friends, some I’d met in street ministry, others with new faces.
I remember the truth coming from Pastor Cody, the directness in his tone, the love he offered to his flock. The way the people gathered and listened, and soaked up what he shared with them.
And I knew that I was coming back, and have ever since.
I began baking biscuits on Saturdays, bringing them buttered and warm, and handing them out from my trunk. I even passed them out after church on the street, to anyone, to everyone. Now, this was before our community grew to where it is now, to where many groups provide full breakfasts each Saturday.
But in those early days, the longing for a roll and the chance to linger by the car with someone who woke up in a tent, or even at the shelter, or someone who had no electricity at his or her home came with a bonding of friends and hearts, of family.
Some of my friends tossed extra rolls in their pockets. Some consumed them like I’d brought steak. Others slapped on the grape jelly or the strawberry jam. Their smacking was grand, the laugher contagious, the harmony perfect.
I loved the gentle way they shared with each other which is something I can learn from, a kindness for their fellow man that wasn’t selfish, hurried, or even rushed.
I remember this one face. A small round man, He scooted along. He nearly rode his bike into the creek one Saturday. He was rescued by his own. He was given a ride by Pastor Cody.
Pastor Cody has a calling. A passion. He is on a journey not many will take and finish well. Some may start. But go another way. This is his heart. His place. In camps. On the street. At the bridge. Sharing the gospel.
And he’ll suffer. He’ll be hurt. He’ll be strong. He’ll weep. He’ll share the gospel at all costs, pouring himself out to others. And he’ll love his church, his sheep that God has appointed to him to cover, to care for, to cast the scriptures into their hearts.
It’s been several years now since I first started going to the bridge, and things change, the community evolves, and people come and go. Life extends, personalities mingle, and adjustments rise up to meet the demands of the community. But the gospel is still being shared. That never changes.
I no longer take biscuits, no longer open my trunk with them, and no longer bake early on a Saturday. (Which I’m grateful for that season).
Sometimes, I long for those early days under the bridge where an amazing journey began for me, where I could also serve, and attend church, and create bonds with homeless friends like butter on my heart. Where, I too, can share the gospel.
I am home there. I am with family. I can’t even see to type this sentence for the tears falling like a creek bursting from the banks of my own heart. The flood of memories God has placed inside my life with this walk at the bridge, or on the street, or at the rehab where I go on Sunday mornings causes me to fall on my knees.
I can’t even believe this underpass is a part of my life. It’s a place where life is anything but simple, but oh, the beauty is so precious beyond measure. Real. Honest. And painful at times. And amazing, too.
When I gaze into the hearts of those I meet along the way, to know their stories, to see their hope, to see them persevere, to see them fail and then to win. To see them reach for Christ. To see them come again and again, I am humbled to be their friend.
To see them trek down the trail to a folding chair whether it’s raining, or cold, or hot, or humid — it’s like someone handed me a warm biscuit from the oven and offered it to me with love.
And I consume it and cherish it … I once was lost but I have been found. May I let someone know Jesus came for them, so that the first hour they believe, the’ll know their chains are gone and they are set free! Thank you Pastor Cody Howard for unrelenting courage to say yes to your calling. For being a friend to many, and to me.

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