by Donny Cho
The Easter Outreach movement began years ago by members of Liberti East who desired to demonstrate the grace of God in their neighborhood in a practical way during the Lenten season. Since then, over 50 churches have partnered in this monumental effort to bring meals to over 5,000 families annually throughout our glorious city to celebrate the gift of Easter.
Metro Presbyterian Church first had the opportunity to serve in this ministry in 2015 as a mere donor; by the time they heard about the opportunity, it was practically Easter, and the most they could do was provide a small gift. However, in 2016, 35 members of Metro jumped at the opportunity to serve⎯and partnered with 5-6 other churches in their direct vicinity to pack meals, pray with one another, and be sent out in groups of three to distribute meals within their tri-borough zip codes (East Falls-Manayunk-Roxborough).
In the span of one week, believers throughout the region mobilized to answer the very question that was once asked of Jesus: “Who is my neighbor (Luke 10:29)?” As one famous preacher put it, “Our neighbor is anyone whose needs we see, whose needs we are able to meet.” The Easter Outreach Program helps churches all over the city answer that question in a very special way through a very unique collaboration.
There is a special satisfaction that comes with answering the question, “What can churches do together that they could never do on their own?” It’s a godly question because only a God of grace can bring so many different people together in one place to address a need that is so much bigger than they are. It won’t solely resolve the issue of poverty or hunger in our city, but it enables each participant to begin a relationship with their neighbor in a way that could lead to powerful, lasting transformation. Through the Easter Outreach, Metro helped to deliver some 200 meals in the East Falls area alone in 2016. And this year, Metro bears the amazing privilege of serving as a coordinating church, leading the distribution efforts in its own locale. The effort will require even more resources⎯more leaders and participants, serving in various roles and capacities. What an amazing opportunity to develop lasting relationships across many dimensions!
As the lead pastor of Metro Presbyterian Church, Donny Cho anticipates the partnership of the various churches that will gather together during Holy Week to complete the Program’s packing and delivery of meals:
“We always say that those who give⎯often gain so much more from the experience; it’s a cliché. But it’s true. It’s true because if you’re like me, or so many others in our church, we are broken people. As a believer and pastor, you have to face your own brokenness, and you have to endure hardships caused by other broken people. This is why the reality of Easter can’t just be some psychologically uplifting concept; that wouldn’t be enough to draw people with so many ‘distinctives’ together. We celebrate Easter because it’s true. Because the resurrection happened. And because of the reality and beauty of the Person and Work of Jesus, we can all come as we are, and serve others, because we share in the same brokenness of sin, and because we can all experience the same healing balm of God’s grace in Jesus in a powerful way. That’s why we serve and give. And that’s why it is just as meaningful and representative for those who receive the meal as it is for those who give. Jesus can be the Bread of Life for us all.” The next month looks to be yet another special season of outreach for Metro Presbyterian Church, and for all those who participate in this meaningful program.