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Free food for freshersCreated by Jane Jackson in Jane Jackson's Blog
Wow, wow, wow! They were queuing half an hour before we were ready to go, chatting merrily fresh faced and so young.
I am not talking about the latest gadget, but hundreds, yes hundreds of young people outside a church waiting patiently for a free lunch.
For the last 3 years Woodlands Church has laid on a free lunch for all 1st year students. All paid for by the church.
My neighbour is a pastor to the students at Bristol Uni, and he asked me if I would like to go and help, I had no idea what an extraordinary experience it was going to be.
Woodlands Church is like no other church I have ever been to, I consider myself to be a Christian but not a regular church goer.
My first encounter with Woodlands was under tragic circumstances as my neighbours son was killed in a hit and run accident several years ago, they had only been in Bristol a short time. I went to their sons memorial service, and the outpouring of welcome from a packed church was overwhelming. I also went to one of their Christmas services last year and it was magical.
I couldn’t get my head around how this building was full to the rafters with people of all ages and so friendly. And yet other churches are struggling to attract people.
I was delighted to go and do whatever needed doing. So when I arrived this morning, I knew it would be something special. It didn’t disappoint.
We sliced lbs of tomatoes, chopped a ridiculous number of cucumbers, onions, cut rolls and laid out the tables with a mountain of food. Bowls and bowls of mayo and tomato sauce, boxes and boxes of fruit, oh and more donuts than I have ever seen! We were given a chat about how and when and the doors were opened!
Outside the church were BBQ’s going full pelt and an incredible military like operation began: pick up roll bung in a burger, direct students inside through one door, where they then were served with onions, tomatoes, cucumbers etc. Every single student was smiling and so enthusiastic and so polite, their parents would have been proud of them. They couldn’t believe that they didn’t have to pay. The whole church was full of such promise and expectance.
I have no idea why, but writing this I have a tear running down my face, maybe its because I am a Mum and a Gran and I hope that if my grandchildren go away when they are older that there is someone there to hold out a supporting hand.
This event does not just happen for one day, but all this week Woodlands will welcome these young people to Bristol, in this way. By the end of this week they will have served 5,000 burgers!
What an unbelievable way to show them the very best of Bristol. Good luck to all ‘freshers’ wherever they are, the future is in your hands. Grab every opportunity you are given.
Oh, you might wonder what happened to leftovers, there wasn’t any!