Men serve up food, hope to Lawtonians
From a sturdy platform covered with a bright red roof at the corner of SW 20th Street and SW D Avenue, Farron Chipps feeds the bodies and souls of his most vulnerable neighbors. And though it’s obviously a porch, Chipps sees it as more of a bridge.
Each day, anywhere from a handful to dozens of people stop by the 46-by-10-foot wooden porch for a sandwich and maybe a conversation. Many of them struggle with homelessness and addiction; none of them leave hungry.
“God just put it on my heart to start feeding them,” said Chipps, who serves as outreach ministry pastor for The Bridge House, which was dedicated in a proclamation ceremony last week.
The Bridge House
About 20 people gathered outside The Bridge House on one of the last hot afternoons of the year to celebrate the completion of a project that had tested and affirmed their faith — many times over. Mayor Stan Booker read a proclamation declaring the house a “beacon of hope” in the city. Nearby, children played and laughed; men swapped tight hugs and women smiled through their tears of gratitude.
All of them had contributed to the house’s development; some through manual labor, gutting and rebuilding the old structure so it would be suitable to live in; others through prayer for the practically miraculous funds needed to complete such a project.
The Bridge House sits on a lot with a garage and a second, smaller home, which houses The Second Mile program, a men’s ministry led by director Forrest Allread. Both house ministries are overseen by M28 Ministries, led by Pastor Jeff Henderson and his wife, Julie Henderson.
Ten years ago, the Hendersons started The Bridge Ministry at Bridge Park, just down the street from the newly dedicated house. Along with a slew of volunteers, the Hendersons have spent the last 502 Saturdays handing out clothing, diapers, food and Bibles to an estimated 45,000 individuals in need.