Agape International Church and Ministries (AICM), of Antioch, California, strives to be a place, "where everybody is somebody, and Jesus is Lord."
Comprised of Nigerians, Liberians, Sierra Leoneans, Ghanaian, Congolese, Caucasian Americans and African Americans, AICM is dedicated not only to multiethnic outreach but also serving people “regardless of their religion, regardless of their nationality, regardless of the place they live,” said Dr. John Ojewole, AICM senior pastor.
“We are a church with a focus on mission, a church that believes in winning the lost and also touching lives,” said Ojewole.
This dedication to serving all extends into the church’s food pantry ministry.
“This [ministry] is about meeting needs, just like Jesus said: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink … Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25:35, 40),” said Ojewole. “We believe that this is an extension of what Jesus Christ would do in our neighborhood.”
Open every Thursday, the AICM food pantry makes groceries, clothes, shoes and other household items available to the community. With people lined around the block, the food pantry serves 60-70 families weekly.
“We embrace all people groups that come to our door, and that is the same kind of principle that we carry not only with our food pantry but also our church and every other ministry that we do,” said Ojewole.
AICM food pantry Director Lilian Ademola said, “Most of our clients always offer their heartfelt thanks, and some have often expressed how fortunate they are to be the recipients of God’s blessing through this food pantry.”
Serving people and families with low income, adults, seniors and home bound, the AICM food pantry has ended the hunger some families were experiencing, while improving the quality of the food available.
“We look forward to [Thursdays] because we enjoy seeing the smiles and happiness displayed on the faces of our clients when they get their groceries, clothes, shoes and other household items,” Ademola said.
Ademola and Ojewole, along with other volunteers — which include some consumers of the food pantry and some members of the church — use the Thursday opportunity not only to serve those who come but to “offer prayer and thanksgiving to God for his continued support and blessings,” said Ademola.
Many of the AICM’s food pantry items are donated through local organizations: the local food bank, as well as White Pony Express, an organization designed to pick up excess products from local stores and businesses and distribute the products to those in need.
In addition to church funding, anonymous donations are also sent to the church, intended specifically for the food pantry ministry.
Ojewole received such a donation in January 2021, with this letter attached from a woman named Ingrid:
“Dear loving people of Christ, I came to you in need (2017), and you blessed my household with great, healthy food! Thank you so very much for all these times we fell short. We moved out of California (2018), and God has provided even in this pandemic. He placed you in my mind and heart and here is a small token to help you help others, or if you have a need in your home that you prayed for, then use it for your need. God will continue to abundantly provide as we stay obedient to his will.”
Ojewole says that AICM does not offer this ministry to force consumers to come to Jesus Christ, “but because we believe that through the channel to adopt the true love of Christ in the neighborhood, many of them will see how Jesus can touch even people that do not belong to the kingdom of Jesus Christ. We can also extend the care and the love to people that do not even belong to him yet and that may even turn them around to become a part of the kingdom.”
AICM serves by adopting the Apostle Paul’s example to “become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some,” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
“We believe that by doing this, we are really extending the love of Christ to these people,” said Ojewole. “And there is no restriction about who they are. There is no restriction about where they come from; we just love them.”