Students enjoying ‘Refuge’ lunches

Heather Latter

Laura and Barb Godbout, along with several helpers, have been providing free faith-based lunches for Fort Frances High School students at the Evangelical Covenant Church each Monday since January—and are pleased by the response.
“We’re averaging about 50 kids each week,” noted Barb, saying they call the lunches “Refuge” because they are providing a safe place for students to express their faith.
Yet Godbout stressed the teens don’t have to belong to a church to attend.
“Everyone is welcome,” she remarked. “It’s open to anyone who wants to come.”
Godbout said they began offering the lunches as a way to help build up and nourish the faith of students in high school.
“A lot of them lose their faith in their teen and college years,” she noted, adding they wanted to do something to help.
“We want the kids to come and leave with 50 more friends so that their high school experience will be more peaceful and full of God’s love,” she explained.
And while they started with just four students, the lunches have grown—sometimes feeding as many as 60 teens, both male and female, at times.
“We can accommodate a few more,” said Godbout, noting they probably would have room in the church basement for about 80 students.
Up until now, attendance has been mostly through word of mouth. But the Godbouts feel there might be other Fort High students who would benefit from these weekly lunches.
In addition to the lunches, sometimes they try to do a little more, such as having some music afterwards.
“Music is a common ground and is very uplifting,” Godbout said. “We hope to develop that a little further.”
This past Monday, for instance, Ericka Tymkin shared her vocal talents by singing “Breath of Heaven” for the other students.
“It’s nice to be able to get away and gather as a community—everyone being here for the same reason: to pray,” said Tymkin, noting she’s been attending “Refuge” since the very beginning.
“I’m very grateful for all the time and effort they give to put this together each week,” she added. “It takes a lot of work.
“They are so generous.”
Laura and Barb Godbout are thankful for the support from pastor Ken Johnson and the congregation at the Evangelical Covenant Church, who offered the space there each Monday.
“We have also received a lot of prayer support,” said Barb Godbout, stressing prayer has been a very important part of this venture.
They pray for the students each day and also pray before their weekly meal.
And while “God has provided abundantly,” and they don’t require any donations at this time, Godbout said if someone has a desire to give, they could come and help out.
“If someone has a heart for teens and a heart for ministry, we would be open to having them come in,” she remarked, whether it’s to share a message of hope or their musical talents.
“We’re hoping other things will come from this,” Godbout added, suggesting perhaps a teen Bible study, a sports night, or a movie night.
“The kids could lead and anyone who might be interested in helping would be welcome,” she enthused.
While the lunches take a lot of work and planning for the Godbout ladies and their helpers, they feel it is worth it.
“There’s joy in serving,” she noted.
They offer different meals each week—everything from tacos-in-a-bag to chicken Caesar wraps to meatballs and potatoes.
Sometimes they serve it as a buffet while other times it is “family style.”
“And we try to keep it as nutritious as we can while keeping it fun,” added Godbout.
In the warmer months, for instance, they had barbecues and iced cappuccinos while in the colder weather have provided hot meals.
“We’ve never had a complaint from the kids. They are very appreciative,” Godbout said.
The pair plan to continue “Refuge” each Monday until the end of the school year and again next year.
“We want to not only feed their bodies, but feed their souls,” she stressed.
For more information about “Refuge” or to get involved, contact Laura Godbout (274-0226) or Barb Godbout (274-5205)