California Church Hosts Drive-Thru Dinner and Prayer for First Responders
By Julie Campbell
From fighting fires and saving lives to investigating tragedies and traffic accidents, the job of a first responder is never easy. On September 11, the congregation of the Church of God of Exeter, California, showed their appreciation for the courageous and hard-working first responders in their community.
“We have, for several years, traditionally done some service projects for our community first responders on 9/11,” said Pastor Brandon Zoll. “We also do a bi-weekly dinner meal train for our police department to remind them they are prayed for, honored, and respected. In this day and age, being a first responder is not an easy task. We want to encourage those who sacrifice so much for us each and every day.”
To keep things simple, the church hosted a drive-thru lunch and dinner for the local police, fire, and EMS workers and their families. “We also served people in our local community as they came by wondering what was happening,” said Pastor Brandon.
The meals were simple: a hamburger or hot dog, bag of chips, cookies, and a drink. But the real “meat” came in the form of prayer. Church members paused to pray for each person who came through the drive through line. “We simply asked, ‘How we can pray for you?’ and prayed for them right then and there.”
Although the event wasn’t promoted publicly, the church contacted the local police, fire, and EMS departments in the community and our neighboring communities and invited them by phone call. They also sent flyers by email to each department.
By the end of the day, church members had served about 60 meals to first responders and staff and 30 meals to their families and local community members. The first responders’ reaction to the event was overwhelmingly positive.
“They were very grateful for the meal and surprised we were doing it,” explained Pastor Brandon. “No other such event is taking place in our community at this time. They were shocked we would take time to pray for them.”
In addition to the event lining up with the church’s mission and vision, which is to know Christ and make him known, Pastor Brandon listed several reasons the church puts a high priority on honoring the community’s first responders.
“First and foremost, they have a very thankless job, and their service and sacrifice often go unnoticed. We feel it is what God would have us do—that He would expect us to serve, honor, and respect those in such positions.
“Not to mention, we have a lot of fun doing it. Who doesn’t like a good old BBQ?”
Julie Campbell is an editor at Warner Press and a freelance journalist. A former city girl from Chicago, she enjoys country life with her husband, Russ, on a five-acre apple orchard in Madison County, Indiana. She is a blessed mom of three wonderful young adult children and one very spoiled red Doberman.