Today our Staff Leaders were privileged to join a small group of ministry partners for breakfast in College Hill at a newly-opened diner very near the unrest in Ferguson.
The diner is owned and operated by a tenacious and dedicated leader of the black community named Pat. She has owned the repurposed building for nearly 20 years and could not stop praising God for the blessing that is now called Fresno’s Diner on North Grand. Check it out: http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/order-north-grand-restaurant-fresnos-diner-wants-be-beacon-hope-community
It was worth the trip to enjoy breakfast with Pat and her crew. Our congregation has long been a partner of College Hill endeavors including Pat’s diner (and eventual Community Training-Center) for years, but the reason I mention it is greater than our small partnership.
The food was great. The idea of supporting something positive in a very troubled part of the world is even greater. But to be encouraged by a Christian entrepreneur like Pat Woods was the greatest blessing. I have attended many a leadership conference, read many a book on the subject, and traveled great distances to be inspired by nationally-known leaders, but few more inspiring than Pat.
I urge all my St. Louis friends to give it a try. In addition to visiting Crown Candy (another great Christian business), stop by Fresno’s, enjoy breakfast or lunch and ask to meet Pat. She refused to quit when hoodlums used sledge-hammers to demolish the back wall of the three-story building to sell the bricks. She got on her knees, held a brick to the sky and asked the Lord to give her the strength, the resources and the help to establish a beacon of hope for her community that has long been devastated by urban blight. Fresno’s is now the first diner to reopen its doors in College Hill in forty years!
Pat’s story is remarkable. She had no money. She had no rich friends. She had no connections to organizations like ours. She had faith. She had prayer. And she had the courage of her convictions and a resolve to see her dream become reality. She has been used by God to accomplish a small miracle that may be just the toe-hold College Hill needs to restore what used to be a vital town center.
We went to support Pat and celebrate the opening of Fresno’s, but God had greater plans. After touring the restaurant and being shown the rooms being constructed as a Community Training Center, we enjoyed an excellent breakfast and Pat pulled up a chair and began to recall the various projects and obstacles that had been overcome in the last decade. It is worth recalling.
Pat gave all glory and praise to the Lord and the faith she had in His goodness. Then she reminded us:
- God doesn’t always come to our rescue in powerful ways. He uses people to do the heavy lifting. He didn’t send Jacob down to her with a ladder.
- When Christians with resources join believers without resources, it is essential those with resources listen and respect those who have none.
- In America, people with resources have loud voices that often get heard. People without resources have small voices that need to be heard.
- Most Christians with resources attempt to fix problems in troubled neighborhoods, then get frustrated and run away when their fixes don’t work.
- Christians with resources need to empower and work with local people, not do the work for them. It will be slower and more frustrating than doing it yourself, but it is essential for ultimate success of the process.
- Setbacks should be expected. Your faith will be tested by failure.
- People are people. They will get angry with each other. Things will be said and done that threaten the relationship. But, as a family of faith, we must forgive and restore our relationships – sometimes often.
- The color of skin and the difference in our cultures doesn’t matter more than our shared human condition and the bond of faith.
- Finally she said, “We don’t always need to know how God will cause things to turn out. It is just important that we make the effort and give Him something to work with. The result will always be different than we planned which is part of the miracle.”
I took time to also talk to Anthony, one of Pat’s cooks. He said he’d been cooking since he was big enough to look over the edge of a stove. He told me he had attended schools in Illinois and a local community college to learn more about his craft. When I asked if he still had college debt, he replied, “Yes Sir, that’s where most of my income goes these days.” Pat has given Anthony and others like him a chance to make their way in life. They are all proud of their part in the miracle of Fresno’s Diner. She has even bigger plans for impacting her neighborhood, and I wouldn’t bet against her.
We are all blessed to be a blessing. No life is unimportant. How can God use you to make a difference in things that matter? Take the time to grab a meal at Fresno’s Diner on North Grand just a 2 blocks south of Highway 70. Let Pat remind you of how God enjoys doing extraordinary things through ordinary people.
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
- What’s your story? How has God used you to do something important?
- Why is it important to understand this passage?
- What should you say to yourself or others who think they have little or nothing of importance to offer God’s work?
Why is it important for Christians to get involved in practical life-changing ventures near and far?
A. It is how good things get done.
B. It changes you.
C. It pleases God.
Click here to take the survey and take a moment to leave a thought or opinion.
If you were unable to attend services last weekend and would like to listen to or watch the message, it is available on our website. Growing Deeper, a Bible study written to accompany the message series, is also available to download.
Gracious Lord, remind me often of Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians, chapter one. Help me realize that You love to do significant things through insignificant people so that Your name might be praised and people would come to faith in Jesus, the author and Perfecter of faith. Keep my eyes open to notice and encourage Christians who are stretching themselves to help others and demonstrate their faith in You. Bless Pat and the Fresno Diner, Lord. Let her witness and the faith she has placed in You cause a revival of faith in College Hill and the city of St. Louis; Amen.
Monday, October 27 at 7:00pm is the date for our next Congregational Meeting. We’ll update you on the state of the church. Join us in the Next Generation Center, Lower Level.
Give Blood on Sunday October 26 from 8:00am-12:00pm in The Commons, Room A. Register at www.redcrossblood.org code STJC or contact Marta at
Want to learn how to be a better parent for every stage and age of your kids? Attend The Courage to Parent Workshops. Our next one is Monday, October 27 at 6:30pm on helping your child make good decisions from elementary school through the teen years.
It’s never too early to have “The Talk.” Register to attend Beyond the Stork and prevent all of those awkward talks by learning the best way to have “The Talks.”
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14 (and to lower my golf score)
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