Messiah College students and alumni, as well as friends from his Harrisburg church, find food for the body and soul at the home of Bernardo Michael (left), associate professor of history and director of the College’s Center for Public Humanities. The Michael family welcomes guests each Thursday evening, sharing surplus bread donated by a local business, a simple meal, and spiritual fellowship.
Beyond the Classroom
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For Bernardo Michael, associate professor of history and director of the College’s Center for Public Humanities, the simple act of using otherwise wasted resources to meet peoples’ needs grew far beyond his original vision. Taking an opportunity to extend hospitality to Messiah students, Michael began to distribute from his home overstocked bread donated by a local business. As Michael publicized this service, students began to
stop by every Thursday evening, as did alumni and others from Michael’s Harrisburg church. They, in turn, distributed bread to others in need. “Initially, people came only to pick up the bread,” recalls Michael. “But then some began to stay, and we began to have conversations about our spiritual lives, theology, you name it.” The Michaels started providing a simple meal for those who stayed and, eventually, the group decided to include prayer and scripture reading as well.
Today, the weekly Thursday evening event not only provides food and fellowship for anyone who wants to stay, but also offers respite for his own family, says Michael. “It has become very meaningful to us. It connects us to friends and other international families and gives us a break from our programmed lifestyles. We didn’t plan it. It just happened this way.”