OPEN HOURS, OPEN SHOP

By Jaye Lindo and Akeia Haddox-Rossiter

If you visit Capital Christian Fellowship (CCF) in Lanham, Maryland, on a Thursday afternoon, you may think it is an unusual time for church. Cars begin arriving around 1:30 p.m., but they do not stop at the main entrance to the lobby. Instead, they stop at the far side of the church at a spot called “Janet’s Garden.” The people have gathered to visit an “Open Hours, Open Shop” food pantry hosted by the partners of CCF.

For years, the church has collaborated with both non-profit and governmental agencies to help provide food through small groups and Thanksgiving projects to those in need. In 2014, this growing and diverse church of over 30 nationalities took a step of faith. In partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank, CCF created a simple food pantry that responded to the needs of the community. “We began with only three families visiting each week, and we were a bit discouraged,” says Lead Pastor Glenn Kauman. “We had a big heart to reach our community, but we were making only a small impact. We knew that God had called us to serve in this way. So we expanded our capacity by bringing on more volunteers, and God began to bring people.”

The church strives to respect the dignity of each person made in the image of God. They allow people to select food from shelves instead of giving them a preselected box of food. They shop at no cost. The CCF Food Pantry not only provides families with a few days of food, but also offers prayer for them. At CCF, people know they are cared for. Today “Open Hours, Open Shop” serves more than 180 families with food, prayer, and discipleship classes.

1 Peter 4:8-10 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” Serving the community in this way blesses the volunteers of the CCF Food Pantry.

A guest’s request for prayer or counseling generates excitement. Those serving jump at the opportunity to invite people into the ministries of CCF. These include the Wednesday evening dinner, discipleship classes, a vibrant and well-attended Basketball & Bible Study, English as a Second Language class, and Sunday worship service. Ronnie Patillo and Amber Straughn, coordinators of the pantry, along with the pastoral staff welcome
guests to serve in the pantry. Patillo and Straughn support the spiritual growth of all those who interact with the pantry.

CCF considers outreach a discipleship principle. Outreach includes service, hospitality, and evangelism, all sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. As with the pantry and the basketball ministry, the church reaches out to people and brings people in to connect them to the body of Christ. We desire to share life with those in our immediate community, especially at holidays. In November, CCF invited the ESL classes to share Thanksgiving.
Over 50 people gave thanks to the Lord together. For the sixth year, the entire congregation traveled to downtown Washington, D.C., on Christmas day to share a meal and to worship with those sleeping on the street. This extension of the outreach ministry to the homeless touches our most forgotten neighbors.

These ministries yield fruit in growing of disciples and in baptisms, both within and without the church building. Reaching out; connecting hearts to Jesus; giving of time, treasure, and talent; and serving with hospitality make up the foundation of outreach at Capital Christian Fellowship. CCF encourages those who partner in ministry to use their gifts and burdens to draw in people and to introduce them to Jesus. This practice has become a part of our DNA. We walk in expectation of how the Lord will grow and expand His church through these heart ministries of Capital Christian Fellowship. For more information on the ministry at Capital Christian Fellowship, see www.capitalchristian.org.

Jaye Lindo is Youth Pastor and Akeia Haddox-Rossiter is Pastor of Outreach at Capital Christian Fellowship in Lanham, Md.