By Andrew Mahinay
Pacific Union College holds countless opportunities for students to serve others on or off campus, including building homes for individuals who lost their homes during the Valley Fire in nearby Pope Valley, food drives, and feeding the homeless in the cities of Berkeley and Clearlake. The long list of service opportunities continues.
I am currently a senior, majoring in English, and will be graduating in 2017. As a freshman, I made it my goal to get involved with campus ministries. Being a part of service opportunities on campus is not a requirement, but it is a great way to strengthen your network and connect with other students on campus, while at the same time bettering yourself as a person.
It was three years ago–during my freshman year–that I chose to attend my first outreach ministry in the city of Berkeley. The service program requires all students who want to attend this ministry meet at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. After having a long tedious week of schoolwork, I struggled with waking up at this time. All I wanted to do was catch up on my sleep. However, I am glad I chose to get out of bed because Berkeley Homeless Ministry became a defining aspect of my life that helped shape me into the responsible, social, and patient person I am today.
Berkeley Homeless Ministry is a simple program which has such a profound effect on the lives of the homeless. A group of PUC students drive to People’s Park, located two minutes away from the University of Berkeley. Once there, students begin organizing the food that will be served. As soon as the homeless begin to see students setting up food, they begin to fall in line. A blessing is said over the food, and the students begin to serve the food, and sing and converse with the homeless. The goal of Berkeley Homeless Ministry is to share the love of Christ through fellowship and the distributing of food. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35)
My first time serving the homeless of People’s Park was quite intimidating. I was comfortable with socializing with fellow friends, classmates, and acquaintances, but interacting with homeless people was quite different. We did not have any similar interests in common nor did we have similar experiences to converse about. Nonetheless, as I continued to attend the Berkeley Homeless Ministry, I learned having similar interests and experiences were not a big deal. Throughout my time fellowshipping with the homeless, I learned the most important trait to have is a patient heart and a willingness to listen.
It is the hope of Berkeley Homeless Ministry to continue making a loving impact on the lives of the homeless. A man by the name of John came up to the group of students one Saturday, and said, “Thank you for all you do, you guys are amazing, God bless you.”