Volunteers feed body, soul
For 50 years, the A.D. Bruce Religion Center has been serving UH students, faculty and staff free lunches from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday.
The center, which has 11 different ministries represented in the building, asks each department to host a lunch at least once per semester.
“We feed somewhere up to 180 to 200 students every week,” said Mike McAllister, campus minister for the Church of Christ.
McAllister, who has been at UH for five years, is responsible for nine to 13 lunches per semester on Wednesdays.
“Students don’t have home cooked meals and some of them don’t have any money,” he said. “God cares about them, so we care about them.”
His ministry has been doing this for more than 40 years and has local churches provide the meals.
“By word of mouth so many students have come here,” said Susan Maxwell, a volunteer from Kingwood Church of Christ. “We are sharing the love of Jesus, the food nourishes their bodies and souls.”
Hoang Long, a Spanish and pharmacy senior, has been coming to the building since he was a freshman.
“Two years ago, I saw the building, thought it was beautiful and saw people eating,” Long said. “When you’re in college anything that has the word free in it is a good thing.”
Long has also benefited from the diversity of the people who attend.
“There are always international students studying here, I’ve experienced new cultures and diversity and have since learned two more languages,” he said.
For other students, the interactions with others are really important.
“You get to talk about your religion and hear about other people’s (religion),” said Zaid Noor, a biology senior.
“It helps clarify misconceptions. People that come here are open minded; they’re exposed to different cultures.”
Students also sit down with other students and have interfaith dialogues.
“We want to make it a dialogue, not a debate,” McAllister said. “Students learn what other students from other faiths actually believe instead of what they’ve heard.
“We were looking for greater student interaction; lots of students need a good meal but also a learning experience,” he said.
The lunches served are open to people of all faiths.
“We’re not forcing someone to believe against their will,” Mcallister said. “We invite everyone to be learners.”
The volunteers said they enjoy serving students.
“We love kids,” said Martha Mierendorf, another Church of Christ volunteer. “We feel the love.”