The old saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. What do you do when life gives you a pandemic and several bunches of old, mushy bananas?
As it turns out, you make muffins. Thousands and thousands of them.
Last August, we were looking for ways that our Serve team could help out in our local Surrey community. We partnered with City Centre Church in Whalley and received a donation of some brown, mushy bananas that we in turn could make into muffins. These muffins go into breakfast and lunch bags prepared by City Centre and are handed out by Surrey Urban Mission. During our youth Serve week, we baked over 400 muffins. Our Serve team also had the opportunity to go to City Centre Church and help pack lunches. During our walking tour of Whalley, we witnessed the lunches that we helped pack being distributed and enjoyed at Surrey Urban Mission.
As I dropped off the muffins that week, I learned of the impact homemade baking can make on an individual's day. A volunteer at City Centre Church told me how a homemade cookie brought a man to tears as someone had thought and cared enough to bake something for him. A simple story like this was reason enough that we decide to continue baking muffins. We baked again the week after Serve, and the week after that. As the teens went back to school, we expanded our muffin baking to more of the congregation. We had small gatherings in the fall for muffin baking marathons, which also offered some great opportunities for fellowship. Once COVID restrictions changed and we could no long gather in small groups, church members began baking at home or individually in the church kitchen. Throughout this past fall, winter and spring, our freezers have consistently been replenished with muffins and other baked goods waiting to be picked up or dropped off.
What began last summer as part of our local Serve week has now turned into a continual ministry of muffin baking throughout this COVID season. As a result, we estimate that over 20,000 muffins have been made for Surrey Urban Mission and Night Shift Ministries. The muffins we make go first to City Centre Church where they are placed into breakfast bags along with a drink and piece of fruit, and then are delivered to Surrey Urban Mission (SUMS) where they are handed out that day to individuals normally served by the hot meal program. After a few months, when Night Shift Ministries got wind of our delicious banana muffins, they asked if we could bake desserts for their dinner bags, so now we have two freezers at church to hold muffins (and sometimes other things like croissants or peanut butter cookies) for both of these Surrey organizations. At Christmas time, many of our children and local school students made Christmas cards to go in the lunch bags as well.
God has given us a unique opportunity to partner and serve our community during this pandemic. Despite so much of life being restricted and put on hold, and though it may look different, the mission of God in this world is still as active as ever.