“Everyone has a reason to give. We have nine million.” This is the byline of Evangel Church in Queens, New York, because there are nine million people who live in New York City. Everyone matters.
Evangel has a large beautiful building that seats 1,800 people. Over time the neighborhood changed, and today those seats are sparsely filled with the poor and homeless. Evangel’s mission has always been to spread the gospel through meeting needs and blessing others. Today they are doing just that through their food pantry.
New York became a COVID-19 hotspot, and Queens continues to have the highest cases of the virus in the state. Along with sickness and death, people lost their jobs that caused more homelessness and the critical need for food. Before the pandemic, the homeless rate in New York City was the highest since the Great Depression, and 1.4 million people depended on various food programs. When the churches closed, so did their food banks. Evangel Church rose to the challenge.
In March, the church gave away 285,120 pounds of food, provided 237,600 hot meals, and helped 8,910 families with essentials. What supplies came in were immediately given out. On June 6, their Facebook page read, “Today we fed 1,200 families and we broke 1.3 million pounds since we started! It’s truly been a wild ride.” On July 10, they wrote, “Evangel’s Food Pantry has officially delivered three million pounds of food in 12 weeks!”
People begin to line up in the early morning. Families with bags, backpacks,, and folding grocery carts wait in line wearing masks, standing six feet apart. In the brutal heat of July, some carried umbrellas. Most lean against buildings and telephone poles conversing in English, Greek, Spanish, Urdu, and other multiple languages. It has been said that Queens is the diversity capital of the world, having more languages than anywhere else in the world.
Holding a phone, the pastor, Andrew Marko, and his mother, Carolyn, video the massive line of people that stretches beyond five blocks and say, “We are so blessed and honored to be able to provide everyone with nutritious food and hope.” A grateful recipient said, “I can’t thank Evangel Church enough for their support. I know God gives all of their volunteers the strength to do what they do on a daily basis. There is nothing but love in their hearts for everyone!”
ANM first encountered Evangel Church when they offered to host a benefit concert for our ministry to Israel called Comfort My People. Despite their own needs, Evangel charged nothing to use their historic building and supplied the sound and electricity for the event. Consequently, Comfort My People was able to give more to the Jewish believers spreading the gospel in Israel.
When Paul Robbins, the Director of Comfort My People, realized Evangel’s ongoing need for food, he wanted to help and give back. He connected them to a relief organization in Virginia that sent five 40-foot containers of supplies to help Evangel feed their neighbors. Paul even received a message from the relief group that said, “The church has been working so hard. Thank you for introducing us to them.”
God told Abraham in Genesis that He would bless him and the nation so they could be a blessing to others. God blesses us to do the same.