For more than 10 years, Central Filipino church (CFC) has participated in the guest chef program at Ascencia, a homeless service agency and emergency shelter in Glendale, whose mission is to “lift people out of homelessness, one person, one family at a time” by providing services, resources, and safe, affordable housing.
Nora Fabrigar, CFC Ascencia feeding program director, has worked with this ministry since the partnership began in 2008, when a group met together to discuss opportunities for outreach. “I just wanted to serve the Lord,” Fabrigar recalled, “and I was willing to join any ministry.”
Through Ascencia’s guest chef program, volunteers prepare and serve breakfast or dinner for clients in their emergency housing. Since the dinner service time slot is always full, and volunteers from CFC preferred weekends, the team committed to cook breakfast for 45 people every fourth Sabbath of the month—at 6 a.m. sharp.
Before COVID, volunteers would prepare the food in Ascencia’s kitchen and were able to meet with the individuals and families who came in for a hot meal. Now, abiding by COVID protocols, food is prepared offsite and dropped off at Ascencia, where clients can pick up their meals. Though interaction is now limited, the team remains faithful in service.
“The purpose of this ministry is to show how God serves and loves His people,” Fabrigar said. The challenge is the time, especially now that we have to be up earlier to cook at home. It’s been a sacrifice, but it is a blessing to serve.”
From this ongoing ministry, another feeding ministry has emerged, led by Manny Ulanday, CFC community service director. Every Wednesday, volunteers meet at the church to make 150-200 sandwiches to distribute in Glendale, Eagle Rock, and downtown Los Angeles. Ulanday, who was previously in charge of CFC’s food bank, started this ministry last March after he was unable to continue leading the food bank due to his health.
Although the food bank is currently on hiatus, the new sandwich ministry fulfills the need of sharing the goodness of salvation with others. “Connections have been made,” Ulanday said. “We’ve been having Bible studies with a family every Sabbath after lunch, and they’ve invited their relatives in the Philippines to join through Zoom. We hope to grow the ministry by renting a space in downtown L.A. to offer Bible studies for people who cannot come to the church.”
“It’s amazing to see how much we can do with our little resources,” Fabrigar added. “All we need is a willing heart to serve. If Jesus is in us, this is a way we can show it. We hope we are planting the seeds.”