A storm that instantly subsides, a blind man healed by spit, one boy’s lunch that feeds a crowd with leftovers. All appear to be out of the ordinary, yet each circumstance has one main purpose, to show God’s crazy love for us. That same God gave True Bethel Baptist church of Buffalo, New York, a crazy idea as well, owning a franchise of the famous sandwich chain, Subway.
Opened in 2003 and housed in the same location as the church, the Subway’s main purpose, according to Reverend Darius Pridgen, is to “provide job training to neighborhood residents and food for the hungry.” (Fortune.com)
During the 2nd season in 2010 of Undercover Boss, the franchise location gained additional attention when Don Fertman, Chief Development Officer of Subway went undercover. Upon his visit, Fertman took the initiative to get to know a little more about the church and its services. In addition, he commended the church on their overall integrity represented at the franchise’s location, and he presented the idea of using the True Bethel location as a model for future branches.
Although the fast-food restaurant was recognized as a potential model for the corporation, “this was, first and foremost, an independent, bottom-up initiative by the church.” (Sunde)
Sitting in a run-down part of town, True Bethel appears to be the brightest light in the neighborhood. Pridgen initially started out with just 25 people in the congregation. Today that number has risen to roughly 3,500 members. “The church that expanded under his watch grew in his image. The institution is bold, eccentric, entrepreneurial.” (Buffalostoryproject.com),and doing God’s work.
Wild and outlandish ideas to bring about change are God’s specialty. He wants us to love and serve others the way that Jesus did even if that means ordering a sub sandwich at the same place you come to worship.
Would you share with us what outlandish ways God has used you to show His love?
“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” (1 Corinthians 12:5-6)
I wanted that episode. Loved it. Our church has done some ‘crazy’ things like starting a free medical clinic and building senior housing. I think we would be up for something like this…
I have known a church to put in their own version of “Starbucks”, but the Subway idea of helping teach needed skills and get people back on their feet was new to me. That is really amazing what your church has done. Thanks for sharing.
I love this article and how you lead us from A to B. So great. I loved ” All appear to be out of the ordinary, yet each circumstance has one main purpose, to show God’s crazy love for us.” Sets me back a tick or wo really grasping those powerful words. Awesome! As for the outlandish ways God has used me? I’ve yet to see any outlandish ways … maybe one day it will be revealed to me.
LOL — * a tick or TWO. (chuckle)
I thought it was wonderful for Subway to show the impact in a community and not edit that part out just because God is involved. I bet by looking at the small stuff in life, you would find out that there really were crazy ways God has used you and that the best are yet to come. Thanks for reading.