At its core, Simple Service is what it sounds like- it’s a simple way to love those in our community. It’s handing someone a free granola bar at the PATH, just because they may not have had time for breakfast. It’s offering your neighbor a bottle of water on a sweltering day, or a MetroCard with a free ride.
Simple Service has one goal- through a small act of kindness, we can show a bit of how God has loved us. We can demonstrate His love in a practical way.
Ever since Hoboken Grace launched ten years ago, a team has been conducting these small acts of kindness all over the city. We’ll never know exactly how many people have been impacted, but we do know that one simple act has huge potential.
These are the stories of three people who were handed a granola bar more than six years ago and how they are still being impacted by it to this day.
“My friend Courtney and I had just moved to Hoboken after college and we were looking for a church to attend here,” said Noelle. “One morning we were walking to the PATH station and a handsome, bearded man handed us a Chewy bar. So we were talking later that day and decided, ‘Hey, let’s try this place out.’ We went that Sunday, and we signed up for a dinner group.”
Seven years later, Noelle now leads Hoboken Grace’s Connection Points Team, helping people sign up for dinner groups and answering any questions newcomers might have.
“The granola bar was about loving people and making them feel welcome,” she said. “So as a Connection Point person, I am the human form of a Chewy bar — when new people come, I love to make them feel welcome and talk to them and make them feel like they know someone at church, especially if it’s their first time. So I feel like the Chewy bar is definitely how I got to where I am now.”
“I was approached at the Exchange Place PATH Station about six years ago,” said Gabby. “Someone handed me a granola bar and business card, which seemed odd to me at the time. The woman didn’t ask for anything in return and as I went into the station, I noticed the name of the church on the card. At that time, I wasn’t considering going to another church because I had a church home. However, the simplicity of it struck me, and I wanted to see similar outreach at my own church.”
About five years later, Gabby started attending Hoboken Grace. She’s currently leading a 10-week dinner group and has assisted with Simple Service.
“I’m glad that seed was planted six years ago,” she said. “And besides, who doesn’t like granola bars?”
“I had been commuting in and out of the city for about a year when one day a guy handed me a granola bar and a card at the PATH station,” said Rachel. “I needed a snack before the gym and he looked normal, so I took it and said thanks.”
“We hope that our small gift brightens your day just a little,” the card said. “We believe that people were meant to love the way God loves us, and we want to do that in any way we can.”
The card reminded Rachel of a time in her life when she’d felt comforted by God. She put it on her nightstand when she got home and forgot about it. But for weeks, she felt something tug at her heart each time she saw it. So Rachel convinced two friends to come with her to check out Hoboken Grace. She hadn’t been to church in years, but something about going stuck with her.
“And two weeks later I went back again by myself,” she said. “This time there was a girl with dark hair who greeted me. She was so nice, and although I was hesitant and unsure about this whole church thing, I talked to her that Sunday evening and then every Sunday evening after that. She invited me to her dinner group and we began having conversations that would change the rest of my life.”
Nearly a decade later, Rachel is on staff at Hoboken Grace. As the director of Grace Kids, she works to make both parents and children feel welcome each Sunday.
“It’s amazing how Chris High’s one small act of kindness (giving me a granola bar) and Ana High’s welcoming smile could have such an impact,” Rachel said. “It was small, but it changed the trajectory of my life.”
Want to learn more about Simple Service? The team meets at the PATH every Thursday at 8 a.m. You can also be a part of Simple Service Saturday on April 21st. We’ll be performing random acts of kindness across the city from 10 a.m. to noon, starting at Church Square Park.