[caps]I[/caps]t’s 5:30 pm in Eugene, Oregon, and the sounds of pop music and the smell of Mexican cuisine drift out of the open windows of the Alpha Omega fraternity house on the corner of 13th Avenue and Kincaid Street. It could easily be mistaken for a typical university dinnertime scene, save for one thing: tonight’s meal isn’t for hungry students.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, students gather at the Alpha Omega house to partake in “Bikes and Burritos,” a ministry outreach that began at the house three years ago. “Bikes and Burritos is sort of like a homeless ministry,” explains resident Logan Rau. “We just make like thirty, forty, fifty burritos and go out and hand them out to the homeless people to show them that they are loved and tell them a little bit about Jesus.”
The Alpha Omega house is owned by the First Baptist Church of Eugene, housing twenty-eight Christian men in their twenties, most of whom are University of Oregon students. Freshman Caleb O’Halloran moved into the house at the beginning of the school year. “It’s been great for me as a freshman to get plugged into a Christian community,” he says. “It’s easy to fall into partying and stuff.”
Foil. Beans. Rice. Roll. Foil. Beans. Rice. Roll. With production-line speed, thirty-five burritos are assembled and neatly stacked in a long row that slithers its way across the countertop like a silver snake. After exhausting their supplies, the burrito crew carefully packs the foil-wrapped burritos into backpacks and puts on their helmets.
On any given day, between two and ten men ride around Eugene in the dark winter in search of the needy. Their first stop is under the Washington Jefferson Bridge, a popular place for homeless people. There is always someone who needs dinner under the bridge. They know several of the Alpha Omegas by name and call the burrito team “The Flying Burrito Boys.” “It’s really cool, because we build relationships with them and they really appreciate not only the food but mostly just like telling stories and hanging out,” says Rau.
Next stop is Eugene Station, the downtown bus transit center and another area heavily populated by Eugene’s homeless community. Here, burritos are offered to anyone and everyone, needy or not. Some people are hesitant, while others eagerly accept a warm dinner. With deflated backpacks, the burrito team heads back to the Alpha Omega house where, as Ryan Dangaran puts it, “we are all sweaty and smell like beans.”
“It’s definitely integral to the Christian faith, but it’s so much more than that,” says Dangaran. “Anyone in the community that has a heart for people and values people can come. It’s a cool opportunity to bless people who are in hard circumstances… and [we] do the best we can to love them as people.”