Playdates with God: Burrito Riders


My new friend Amanda

On Saturday, I made my second trip down to Huntington to help the Marshall Medical Outreach serve the homeless and others there who are in need of medical care. The faces of those we served stay with me—a couple stories in particular kindle in my thoughts. There were small ones, and pet dogs, and this group’s ability to find beauty under their feet ministers to me. I am speechless with gratitude.

In the afternoon, we moved a few blocks down to Harmony House—an organization dedicated to helping the homeless find permanent housing and social services. The residents enjoyed lunch, medical services, a checkers tournament, and getting their nails done. Among other things. And there, I made a new friend.

Her name is Amanda Coleman. Amanda works for Harmony House, helping residents get connected with services in their community. After only talking a few minutes, her beautiful heart kind of knocked my socks off. Amanda told me about a ministry she and her husband Tim started in 2012 when they lived in Louisville. It’s called the Burrito Riders. The Burrito Riders is a nonprofit ministry that delivers hot breakfast burritos by bicycle to the city’s homeless two Saturday mornings a month. In just over a year the Burrito Riders of Louisville handed out more than 5,000 hot breakfast burritos—giving away about 300 on each 90-minute ride.

When the couple decided to move to Huntington—Tim’s hometown—it was a given that the Burrito Riders would take to those streets too. The Burrito Riders of Huntington made their first ride in April and Amanda told me that they are giving away about 150 breakfast burritos each Saturday they ride. 
When I visited their website, I read this about their purpose:
“While on the surface it might seem that the Burrito Riders’ primary task is providing hot, hearty breakfast burritos to communities in need, we actually work to go beyond the burrito. In fact, the burrito is only the excuse we use to meet people… Our truer goal is to connect with the people that we serve, and to show them, through a building of relationships, that they are valued and respected. We hope to have an opportunity to show them God’s love, in a world that sometimes seems unjust, through our actions…”

There is a lot of ministry that happens around the table, friends. Even if that table is a set of bicycle handlebars and tin foil wrapping.

In her book The Church’s Portraits of Jesus, Linda McKinnish Bridges makes the argument that if we were to paint a portrait of Jesus based on the information given us in his gospel; Luke’s portrait would have him sitting at a table. For, in this particular Gospel, Jesus is constantly seen at a meal, going to a meal, or coming from a meal.

“Luke,” Bridges says, “situates Jesus around a common table filled with food…sharing one of life’s most intimate extraordinary moments—a meal.”

From his humble beginning in a feeding trough to dinners with tax collectors and Pharisees, to breaking bread with women, to the infamous last supper, and even after the walk to Emmaus—Jesus uses food to give us a picture of the new community of God. “The lessons are clear”, says Bridges, “To be without God is to be hungry, even when the table is filled with food.”

Amanda and her husband Tim inspire me. They’ve changed their lives to follow this passion to help others. Amanda, who has a Ph.D. in anthropology, told me that she believed her studies and work in that field helped prepare her for this role she plays now. “I’m really good at connecting with people,” she said. “…it feels like this is a calling.”

In an interview with the Herald Dispatch, Tim talked about the challenges of getting the ministry started. The first time they rode out, they took ten burritos with them. “It took every bit of three hours to get rid of the burritos,” he said. “It was almost comedic at times because we didn’t know what we were doing…I really didn’t know how to approach people…” But they kept trying. And soon, they began to see these people as individuals, not projects. 

And you know what? Now Tim and Amanda and their friends have started a re-bicycling program—fixing up and refurbishing old bikes and giving them to some of those homeless people they serve and others who can’t afford such things. See how love leads? 

Amanda and Tim and the Burrito Riders sure look a lot like Jesus to me. If you’re local, love to bike, cook, or desire to make a difference, why not hook up with the Burrito Riders? It just might be the recipe to feed the deep hunger.

Over at The High Calling, we’re finishing up our book discussion on Matt Appling’s Life after Art. Will you join us?

How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

The Playdates button:

Comments

  1. says

    Oh, this really speaks to me. I’m glad you were able to meet Amanda and find out about this beautiful ministry. Wow. I’m always inspired to get to hang out with people who are doing great things.

    My husband has seen the need for bicycles among the homeless too and has started looking for them more and more to give away. They can make a big difference to someone who has no other transportation except their feet. It’s not something I would have ever thought of a couple years ago. I love how the Lord reveals more and more to us! Thanks for sharing your beautiful story and heart, Laura.

  2. bluecottonmemory says

    There is something about sitting around a table, talking, sharing. We started a small group on Sticky Faith that meets a few times a month – the teens come and hang out and the parents we talk across the table – and the teens wonder in and are starting to join the conversation.

  3. Mia says

    Dear Laura
    This reminds me of the Jewish custom to only invite your closest, dearest friends for a meal at your house. And this makes our Lord invitation to the banquet even more special. How precious these people are that we have the honor of serving everyday in our lives. Even a smile is a gift of love.
    Blessings XX
    Mia

  4. says

    Love this. We had a girl at our church who started handing out “love bags” to the homeless, and now there are several churches all around the country who are involved. It’s amazing what a difference one person can make in the life of another. 🙂

  5. says

    This is really cool, Laura.

    We had a guest pastor at our church Sunday and talked about serving at the Banquet, which is an area food ministry, serving the poor and homeless. He noted that while the people are hungry for food, they are also hungry for intimacy and closeness with someone. Loneliness is heart-starving.

  6. says

    Isn’t it fascinating to read all the times Jesus fed his followers or ate a meal with people? It makes the dinner table more special to me, Betty. I want these moments around the table to be holy times, and I want to share this bread with others.

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