Former shut-in finds ministry in cooking meals for the home bound community

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WEBA former shut-in, Debra Childers now cooks up meals for others in Feeding the Flock ministry.jpg

Once herself a shut-in, Debra Childers now cooks up meals for people who are stuck at home due to illness or injury. Childers, a La Mesa resident, heads up Feeding the Flock, a project of the Kitchen Ministry at Rock Church East County.

When Childers walks into a room, she brightens up the place with her big blue eyes and warm laughter. She is always offering up something delicious like Cookie Gooey Bar, one of her newest creations.

Once herself a shut-in, Debra Childers now cooks up meals for people who are stuck at home due to illness or injury. Childers, a La Mesa resident, heads up Feeding the Flock, a project of the Kitchen Ministry at Rock Church East County.

When Childers walks into a room, she brightens up the place with her big blue eyes and warm laughter. She is always offering up something delicious like Cookie Gooey Bar, one of her newest creations.

In the kitchen, Childers is the master. A former executive chef, Childers used to work all day and into the night. All that stopped suddenly almost four years ago when diagnosed with Regional Sympathetic Disease, a nerve disorder after breaking her ankle.

Pain has been a constant for Childers for more than three years. But the worst part of her disease has always been the isolation.

“Most people don’t want to come and visit you if you’re a shut-in,” Childers said.

Due to what Childers said is a gift from God, she learned how to push back the grip of pain on her life. But she still grappled with restlessness. She wanted to use her talents and skills in service, rather than sit around watching Food Channel. For help on ideas, she talked with Rebecca Garcia, a friend and life coach. Together they looked at the possibilities.

Childers considered everything from beginning a catering business to making jams and jellies and selling them at farmers’ markets. But she knew that was not the answer. Garcia encouraged her to follow what her heart was telling her to do.

That was when Childers decided that she wanted to cook and bake for shut-ins. She definitely had the experience and for two years already she had been cooking for friends of hers who needed nourishment after a return from the hospital or a period of illness. Then a little over a month ago, Childers signed up with the Kitchen Ministry at the Rock Church East County that recently opened its doors in El Cajon. She was intrigued by the emphasis that the church places on getting involved in ministry and service.

“It was very clear when I met with Debra that she has a real passion for cooking and such an incredible heart for serving others. I love that she has found her calling,” Garcia said.

Now Childers is proving herself to be a true friend of those who cannot leave their home, cooking 32 meals for 17 shut-ins.

“The number of people on the list of Feeding the Flock Ministry has grown from two in the beginning to 17,” Childers said. “We expect quite a lot more in the near future.”

Each person receives two meals each week, providing enough food for two dinners and two lunches each. People receiving meals can give a donation of $15, but, anyone who needs a meal will not be turned away for a lack of money.

Associate Pastor Taylor Chapman at the Rock Church East County encourages Childers in her service work.

“We are excited that Debra has been a part of our church and is reaching out to other people in need. She is a true inspiration and joy to work with,” he said.

Although Childers is a professional, working from home in her own certified kitchen, she cannot carry out Feeding the Flock alone. She does not want it that way, either. 

A friend of hers, Nancy Dice, has teamed up with her in this ministry. Dice does the majority of the cooking on one day, while Childers takes the other.

Currently, Dice has taken on the task of delivering the food, since Childers cannot drive. The delivery includes a copy of the “Daily Bread Devotional.”

Dice said that it takes her nearly three hours just to deliver the meals.

“A lot of people just want to talk, so when I come with their food, I’ll sit and visit with them. Sometimes they beg me not to go,” Dice said. “We still need all kinds of help in this ministry.”

Childers said that goes for cooking, delivery and any other ways people want to help. 

Other needs are a dietician, volunteers to help package the meals, and access to a commercial kitchen.

For more information on Feeding the Flock, call 619-741-3765.

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