“Hands and Feet for Jesus” Serves a Heaping Helping of Compassion

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By Shelley Mahoney

GLEN BURNIE, Md. — Every Saturday, rain or shine, and sometimes in snow, volunteers from Faith Glen Burnie Church’s Hands and Feet for Jesus ministry serve home-cooked meals and give away groceries and basic necessities to over 100 people. Though the distribution begins at noon, the line forms over an hour ahead in the parking lot of Son Rise Fellowship Church in Glen Burnie, on Ritchie Highway, the main thoroughfare through the town.

Members of Kettering Baptist Church gave away Bibles, devotionals and hats at a food/clothing ministry sponsored by Helping Hands for Jesus. (Photo courtesy of Kettering Baptist Church)

Faith Glen Burnie member Janet Hayes, who leads the ministry, said that she and her friend, Kathy Snow, also a member of Faith, began cooking food, loading it in the trunk of her car, and delivering it to “tent cities” to people experiencing homelessness around Glen Burnie over a decade ago. They later began partnering with the Anne Arundel County Food Bank, serving food at various locations and inviting people. That ministry quickly expanded. Their small group grew to 25, and the number of people showing up multiplied exponentially. They have had to move several times. But as one door closed, God always opened another one.

“I’ve always liked taking care of people,” Hayes explained. I used to work as a Registered Nurse and had to retire early due to an injury. The church had an advertisement for help, and one of the options was to help the homeless. I said I’d do it.”

Now, besides providing hot meals and food from the Food Bank, they receive donations from local stores. Also, individuals and volunteers from many churches nearby began just showing up with donations and helping out. A pet food truck started showing up sporadically, giving out dog and cat food. Several Maryland/Delaware churches have been represented through the years, including Glen Burnie Baptist Church, Linthicum Baptist Church, Bay Life Church, and North Glen Community Church, Glen Burnie. Volunteers from Kettering Baptist Church in Prince George’s County gave away Bibles, devotionals, and hats in the winter.  

One of the most involved partners has been Bkind Gives, led by Fred and Monica Rost. Bkind Gives brings a large number of regular volunteers and a variety of food. Hayes said BKind Gives has taken a load off of her and her helpers, mostly seniors.

Several local pastors from various denominations have also lent a hand, sharing devotionals and talking with those in line.

Many individuals line up for food at the weekly Hands and Feet for Jesus ministry. Some need a helping hand to get through the week, and some are experiencing chronic homelessness. (Photo by Sharon Mager)

Hayes loves the ministry. “The most exciting part is getting ready to serve,” she said enthusiastically. I love getting the food and thinking of what to cook — about what I can bring that they will like. I like it to be nutritious and try to have all the food groups in there. I also like talking to people while I’m serving.”

The ministry serves more than just food–it serves up a heaping helping of compassion and spiritual truths.

For Hayes and her team, the ministry is truly a hands-on, practical way to show the love of Christ. Hayes and the others have built relationships with many of the regulars who come for food and with other volunteers. They greet each other and share news and the ups and downs of the week.

There is always a short devotion and prayer before the long line moves forward to the tables, and the majority bow their heads and join in. Christian music plays on speakers throughout the giveaway. “

We focus on spiritual needs in addition to physical needs,” Hayes emphasized. “Sometimes when a person is homeless and not connected to everyday life, they feel inadequate and like they won’t be accepted,” she said. “So we make strong efforts to assure them that God will always forgive them, no matter what they have been through.”

Do you want to start a compassion ministry? We can help! Email [email protected] for more information. 

Shelley Mahoney is the director of enrichment at Rosedale Christian Academy and a freelance writer.

Feature photo: Janet Hayes (right) with another Hands & Feet for Jesus volunteer.