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Ransom Café ministry serves homeless population in Mobile areacomment (0)

August 15, 2013

By Taylor Hamm

Matt Armbruster likes to cook, and a few years ago he felt he needed to use that God-given ability to serve the Lord.

So he and others in his community started the Ransom Café ministry. The food ministry provides places where Mobile’s homeless population can order cooked meals free of charge. Running completely off donations, the café (which meets in several churches in the area) changes its menu often. Ransom Café does ask those who receive a hot meal to either donate money when they can or donate time by washing dishes, sweeping or doing another task to help with the ministry.

Armbruster said the ministry revolves around Matthew 20:28, emphasizing the importance of serving and putting others first.

“We know people are hurting, and we just use [the café] as an avenue to get to know people,” said Armbruster, an area Christian who helps with Church on the Street, a homeless ministry in Tillman’s Corner. “It’s been good for the whole community around, but it’s been great for the Christian community.”

He and his wife, Tara, opened the first Ransom Café in 2010 at West Mobile Baptist Church, Mobile. After that, God provided opportunities for the couple to open cafés at four other churches in the Mobile area, Armbruster said.

David Gill, pastor of First Baptist Church, Theodore, approached Armbruster about starting a Ransom Café at their church after he met a widow who had a powerful testimony of her encounter with the café. 

Gill said he reflects on Isaiah 58:7–8, which speaks of providing for the homeless and breaking forth, because he sees that principle come to life through Ransom Café.

“My philosophy is that if you’re taking care of the poor, God will bless you,” he said. “While we have been providing for those outside the church, the attitude of gratefulness and enthusiasm among members has improved, as well as attendance.”

Many of the churches involved have opened up other ministries, such as food pantries or clothes closets, in conjunction with the cafés. In addition to providing meals, the Ransom Café ministry also has a portable “Clean Machine” that houses showers and laundry facilities, something made available at the Ransom Café and in homeless communities at various times.

Charles Gibbs, pastor of West Mobile Baptist, said Ransom Café has opened up his church’s eyes to the fact that there are ministry opportunities everywhere.

“It has helped us understand that the job of the church is beyond being inside four walls,” Gibbs said. “It has created opportunities to share the gospel and we get to spend our time getting to know people.”

The ministry’s mission is to build relationships by serving those in need, teaching others about food and job preparation and ultimately sharing the gospel. 

Ransom Café is open at a different church location every day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

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