NewsPositively Colorado


The Sanctuary Church models being a friend of the poor feeding hundreds of homeless every Sunday

Posted at 10:26 PM, May 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-13 07:54:00-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Sunday mornings at The Sanctuary Church on the west side of Colorado Springs are all about food and fellowship.

"Eating is our way of communicating," said Yolanda Maravilla.

Maravilla heads up a team of 25 volunteers who help feed the hundreds of people who show up for a meal.

"They call me 'Rag-a Mamma'," she said.

Maravilla has done this every Sunday for the last 10 years, an idea she says was divinely inspired.

"I said, 'Lord let them smell the coffee and let them come' and so two weeks later (homeless people) were knocking at our back door so I started feeding 60 in the parlor," Maravilla said.

Now they serve over 200 people every Sunday.

"We like to say church starts at 9 a.m. when we’re here and then we do worship at 10 a.m. in the main sanctuary," said Eric Sandras.

Sandras, or 'Dr. E' as he's known among his friends, is the lead pastor, a recovering addict 15 years into his sobriety. He calls his church a shame-free church, a place to show all people God loves you as you are, not as you should be.

"It's really about restoring a sense of humanity to people," Sandras said. "It’s a tough world on the streets and there’s a lot of tension right now in our community from business development and homeless issues and the housing crisis and we’re just trying to make a difference every day for somebody just to let them know they’re seen that they’re loved."

"They don’t care where you come from, your background if you’re a mess or not, they help everyone," said Kenny.

Kenny, a former filmmaker, says he became homeless when the film industry shut down during the covid pandemic.

"By the time I got done doling out all my money to help everyone else, I forgot about myself maybe," Kenny said.

Jesse Richards spent time in prison but has turned his life around. The husband and father of two is not homeless but brings his boys to breakfast every Sunday. He says he's determined to set an example of gratitude and human kindness.

"We love doing this every Sunday," Richards said. "We get up early, we come here. It’s mainly a humbling experience. I just want (my children) to be thankful and feel the blessings that the Lord has put upon me.

They're the kind of lessons Dr. E hopes to remind his congregation and the entire community of the importance of helping anyone in need.

"Jesus never did minister to the poor, he was only known as a friend of the poor," Sandras said. "If you want to do the things God is doing, become a friend of the poor. The poor around us are not just on the streets. They're people in suburbia that are living in quiet lives of desperation that are poor in their hearts and their marriages and their families. Just reaching and sharing alongside people, their stories, helps people know that God sees them, He loves them and He’s going to change them."

If you'd like to volunteer or donate to the church, click here.

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