In December 2021, the Williston Church in North Dakota gave out Christmas boxes to the elderly, students at the state college, and any others that needed food and delicacies for the festive season. This project grabbed the attention of the members showing them there is a need in the local church, as well as the community.
The Williston Adventist Church soup kitchen began as an evangelistic vision by Rose Shafer and was later led by Ronica Smit. At first, church members assisted the local Methodist Church with their community outreach program, which began five years ago. The Methodist Church was the only church organization in the greater Williston area that assisted vulnerable families with a hot meal. The need is far greater on weekends, as children receive food during the weekdays at school. Because of this, the Methodists served on Saturdays. The vision grew to open a community soup kitchen on Fridays to assist with the evident demands and community needs, especially during and post COVID as more families struggle in the climate of balancing finances.
The soup kitchen’s goal is to address a need in the community by serving a hot meal with dessert every first and third Friday evening of the month. This follows the holistic model of evangelism and establishes relationships between the Adventist Church and its community. The objective is to not only feed the people physically but spiritually by giving tracts and Bible study flyers to individuals when they come for food. Pastor Sarel Smit and the local elders are available to pray with those in need.
When it first opened, just over 20 people from the community were coming for meals. People began to form a drive-through line to be served and some even stopped to dine-in on occasion, which allowed members to fellowship with the community. After a couple of Fridays, the number of recipients grew tremendously. As attendance rose, church members began to fear the expense, but God is so good that He sent donors from the community, church, and even local governing pantries to assist with the increased volume.
Members praise God for supplying the food needed for the project, as well as the hands to serve those in need. The program has allowed the church to make a real impact in the lives of the people in the Williston area and has established the Adventist Church as a vital part of the community, as there are now about 50 families regularly being served.