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Waco's Gospel Cafe Serves Up Love One Meal At a Time

April 8, 2010

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After a reader told author Lisa Wingate that she might find an interesting story at The Gospel Cafe, Lisa was intrigued. So a couple of summers ago, she visited the thirteen year old ministry.

After visiting, she volunteered, and spent time with the workers and the hungry people they feed at the facility that's far more than a restaurant.

The Gospel Cafe doesn't charge for meals. People pay what they can; some people pay more to cover food for others. The food is prepared for anyone, but it's often the needy and downtrodden who fill the lines that begin to form before the cafe opens at 11:30. The Gospel Cafe was founded 13 years ago by Cross Ties Ministries, who runs and holds church services in the building. Lisa found something special, just as have many others on both sides of the serving line. One word in particular keeps coming up.

Marsha Marty is pastor of Cross Ties Ministries.

It's that love that truly permeates The Gospel Cafe, and that stands out to everyone from the homeless who enter its doors to the author who wrote about it. In the hours leading up to the opening of the doors for lunch, a number of volunteers prepare the day's menu.

Sherry Castello, who a Cross Ties member who was there at the founding, oversees the operation, as volunteers scurry about the large kitchen, stirring, pouring, mixing, and preparing the day's offerings. The kitchen and surrounding rooms look like home, with light yellow walls, pictures, and bookshelves. It helps set the tone. But what really sets the tone before the hungry enter is the prayer, as Pastor Marty leads all of the volunteers, arms locked with one another, in a petition.

The volunteers continue went back to work, buoyed by the prayer and past experience. Most of them say that they came expecting to serve, yet as it is in so many of these situations, it's they that find themselves served more often than not. Gail Frohberg is a former nurse who volunteers. Thirteen months ago, she nearly died from a brain anyeurism. After overcoming the affliction, she was blown away when she returned to the cafe.

Her story is the most dramatic, but the theme not uncommon. One worker, a former schoolteacher, finds herself blessed to be interacting with former students. Another, who we'll meet tomorrow, now works at the cafe after being referred there during a low point in her life by a doctor familiar with their work. But even as they talk, they keep busy, knowing that the lunch rush is just around the corner. Sherry Castello knows they'll be busy.

Tomorrow, we'll see what happens at The Gospel Cafe when the doors open and the serving that Lisa Wingate describes in her book begins. You can hear yesterday's story online at kwbu.org. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.

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