Covid has changed life for all of us, but for many it’s made life almost impossible. With businesses told to close and jobs affected, millions have found themselves not knowing where their next meal is coming from. To help feed the hungry and share about the hope of Jesus, we started the Message Community Grocery.
Step inside any of our Community Groceries and it’s just like a small supermarket. Shelves are stocked full of branded produce and crates full of fresh food and vegetables are available. But this is where the similarities end. Why? Because a full shop will cost our members only £3 a visit – saving on average a massive £30 per shop. Bridging the gap between foodbanks and supermarkets, our groceries are helping provide affordable food for families.
But food is only a small part of what the Community Groceries are about. At their heart is mission – loving our neighbour and pointing people to Jesus.
As our members come into the stores we get to know them, build up friendships and use every opportunity to share the gospel and pray with them. We run courses for members like Alpha, the4points and CAP debt management, cookery lessons, counselling sessions and job clubs. And through it all we’re seeing lives transformed.
Jane Sullivan has been helping out in the Sharston Community Grocery since it opened in September and gets to chat to members as they shop. One lady who Jane’s got to know is Leah*. Each week, Leah comes in for her shopping and as she fills her basket and pays, she talks to Jane. As time went on, Leah started to share that she felt lonely and spent most of her time crying. As she comforted her, Jane had the chance to pray for Leah and explained that she was loved by Jesus and was never alone. Right there in the grocery Leah gave her life to Jesus.
‘I couldn’t believe the change in her the next time she came into the store,’ says Jane. ‘She was full of life and so bubbly. She told me that she couldn’t put the Bible we’d given her down.
‘A few days later, I got a message from Leah sharing that she’d been struggling with debt and had become too scared to open her letters and bills. However, that morning she was reading the story of the widow’s oil in the Bible and felt God telling her to trust him. When the post arrived, she felt brave enough to open it and found a Court Order and a late utility bill. Straight away she picked up the phone, talked to the companies and was able to arrange manageable payment plans. “I now know God listens, watches and directs us, and provides the strength and courage to tackle things that seem unresolvable.” Wow!’
‘Desperate to learn more about Jesus, Leah has been logging on for the4points course we’re running for members and getting involved with prayer events and the local church. I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do through Leah.’
As members hear about Jesus and respond to him they then can’t stop telling their friends about him! Julie* was one of the first people who responded to the gospel in a grocery. The next time she came into the store she brought with her four friends who all wanted to know about Jesus and be prayed with. Since then, she’s not stopped bringing her friends in and they’re all getting to know more about Jesus and their new faith through the4points course.
What started as one store in Sharston has quickly grown. We now also have stores in Sheffield, Hexham, Wigan, Bolton, Salford and Ragworth, each run in partnership with a local church and ready to serve their local communities. Before the end of 2021 at least another five stores will open across the UK sharing Jesus’ love.
Find out more about our groceries at communitygrocery.org.uk