There are fresh flowers on the outside; worn antique wood on the inside. Who knows how many stories this building squished in the outskirts of downtown Miamisburg has.
Its current story might be the most important one of them all.
“To provide a place where our neighbors come and eat together as one community,” is the mission statement of OneBistro, a “pay-it-forward” restaurant ministry.
As the bell chimed when my family walked through the front door, Deb, the manager, greeted us. She was constantly smiling, constantly moving. Business was obviously important to her - the business of community and serving others.
“I attend Apex and a little over a year ago my House Church came and volunteered, then I volunteered a few other times; now I am a full time manager and on the board [of the business],” Deb informs me.
She tells me this business is very different day-to-day, she never knows what to expect. However, she continually sees God use a simple meal to connect with others. She adds, “This is much more than a meal”.
My husband, my son and I sat down and looked over the menu; we loved the culinary originality. We ordered and I took a moment to soak in the surroundings. What caught my attention was the other workers- many of them youth. It was as refreshing as the drink I was quickly served.
That is how this business keeps moving and growing: volunteers. “For many of them, it is a place to feel safe, or a place of a guaranteed meal,” Deb explains. One Bistro’s policy is if you cannot pay your meal, then pay for it with services, big or small. Overall the bistro embraces a multiple pay-in-forward payment plan.
1. Pay what you can. If unable to pay, give time in service as payment.2. Pay full amount of suggested price.3. Pay full amount of suggested price, plus a little extra to pay it forward.4. Give time in service to pay it forward for a neighbor to enjoy a meal.
This simple concept has shown amazing results; more than 200 people are being fed each week, and a total of 12,000 people since opening.
While the numbers alone could make anyone throw their hands up to praise the Lord the real heart of the matter are the people being served. As Deb said, it is more than a meal.
When I asked Deb how God has used this ministry personally in her own life, she took a long pause both in thought and to catch the tears forming in her eyes.
I honestly can’t directly quote her on what she said because I was too captivated by the emotion to write anything down. She spoke of no longer passing judgment, how her eyes have been opened to making many, many friends from all walks of life. She first thought it was about her helping others, when truly they would also help her in many ways as well.
If you feel at all led to help with this ministry and have time to spare, serve! If you are financially able, donate! OneBistro is looking for more monthly partnerships. If you are looking for a good meal ... I think you get the idea. You can visit onebistro.org to find all the information you need to do all of the above.
Deuteronomy 15:11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Author: Ally Geis
Photographer: Matt Geis