Written by Simone Weber
I had the opportunity to sit down with Bill, a musician and chef that has been participating in Table Grace Cafe over the last few years. Most recently he returned to share his gift of music and ministry. Here is a written transcription of our interview. I asked the questions (Q) and Bill supplied the answers (A) in the following.
Q: Tell us who you are and how you ended up at Table Grace today…
A: “My name is Bill Hershey and I grew up in Omaha, and I went to prison for DUI in 2009 and when I got out I was homeless. That is when I got involved in the homeless community, and heard the Gospel and got Baptized and Saved. I was disabled in 2017 and 2018 and I was looking for something to keep me busy, so I came to Table Grace Cafe to volunteer in the kitchen because I have a lot of restaurant experience.
Recently I got hurt at work, and I feel that God is asking me to change my life and is calling me to full time ministry. I live two blocks from Table Grace. I felt that I needed to volunteer my time to help others, so I reached out to Matt a few weeks ago to offer my gift of Music and Ministry at Table Grace. A couple of weeks later I met Simone and she has invited me to come join with the music and Worship at Table Grace a couple of times a month. This period of time that God has called me out into ministry I feel that God has led me to Table Grace to share my gifts and inspire others. I have been studying the Bible for the last 10 years. I have been playing guitar since I was 7 years old. I will be going to Bible College and Seminary at some point.
After I volunteered here the first time I was working with Community Alliance and working with the homeless population as a peer support. It’s my calling to work with less fortunate people, I know what it’s like and I have been there. All of the terrible experiences I have had in my life were all shaping me, like the potter shapes the clay. Everything that I have been through in my life has brought me to a point that Jesus will shine through me. I can empathize with the people, because I have been there. You can’t have olive oil without crushing the olives. I feel like I have been crushed. And now I feel covered with the oil of the anointing. I appreciate having this outlet at Table Grace to share the gifts God has blessed me with.”
Q: How did your time serving in the kitchen impact you in that season of your life.
A: “I was very stir crazy, and I have an active mind. I was applying for disability in 2017-2018, and waiting for disability to come through, coming to Table Grace Cafe helped me have something productive to do with my time while I was disabled. Matt’s been great! I knew recently when I called to see if I could come down to play music that Matt would say sure, come on down! It’s been a blessing to me and I know it’s a blessing to the homeless and disabled community that Table Grace Cafe is here. It was a blessing to have something to do with the skills that I have in the kitchen.”
Q: Now that you are sharing your music, how is that impacting your journey?
A: I used to be a professional musician and then set down the guitar for several years. And now I am getting back into it. What it’s doing for me is connecting me to a network of musicians and a niche that will help to further create the total vision for my ministry and what it will be in the future.
Q: If you were to speak to the people who are watching or reading this, and maybe they don’t get to come down to Table Grace all of the time, but they are super supportive of the mission...What would you want to say to them, to inspire others to give and also to thank the people who are supporting the mission ?
A: “Well, you will get your reward in heaven. There is the planter and the person who waters, and you will get the same reward as the person who waters. I think Table Grace has totally changed downtown Omaha. There is not any other place you can go like this. For people to be able to come in and actually sit down and have a hot meal, and we are talking about people who are quite unfortunate many of the times and there is no other time they would be able to do something like that. It’s really a blessing, I can definitely see the anointing on this ministry and this place. I would thank all of the donors and say your money is well spent. Everything is put toward a purpose, nothing goes to waste. I don’t know where the vision of this place has come from, I’ve never really had that discussion with you yet, but it’s definitely effective and if you are looking for a way to have an impact in this city in Omaha, this definitely the place.”
Q: Anything else you want to share….
A: ”If you don’t know Jesus, He pulled me out, and is now using me for His Kingdom. He is the Truth. And may you be able to further your relationship with Him because it’s just so glorious! As it says in Proverbs that one shouldn’t eat too much honey looking for your own glory. So I wrote in my notes in my Bible, if you eat too much honey it makes you sick and it doesn’t satisfy. Really the only real glory is the glory of the Lord. I hope a lot of people see this and I hope you can continue to help me share my gift. ”
Simone: Thank you, Bill.
Written by Simone Weber
Oct. 11, 2021
If you have been to Table Grace Cafe over the last several years, and even during the Pandemic, you would have seen Gail sitting at her table by the counter. She would often arrive at 10am and help wrap silverware or help set the dining room up for opening. She would then order her soup, and coffee, enjoy her meal, talk with Cathryn or Simone or other patrons/staff that caught her attention. Or you may have seen her meeting with a few other patrons to pray, discuss scriptures or share her videos of Otters. You may have seen her as she gathered her things up to leave for the day and went around to everyone saying, “I’m going now, see you tomorrow.” Or “Thank you so much, I feel so much better after being here today, this place is my family.” In August, Gail was walking home to the Defreese Manner from getting a few groceries at Walgreens, and was hit by a car that turned into her. She broke her femur and was taken to the hospital to have surgery and start a long road to recovery.
Her sister knew how much Gail loved coming to Table Grace, so she gave us a call to let us know that Gail would not be in for a while. We had the opportunity to visit her, and several of us did, and we stayed in touch by phone. Gail shared how long the days were at the place she was eventually transported to for her physical therapy and recovery. Many of the days their facility was on lockdown because of COVID-19 and could not even leave their individual rooms. Gail loves to be busy and wants her day to have purpose, she even asked one of the people that was working there if she could have a job of some kind to do while she waited for healing. She wasn’t given a job, but just continued to wait until she could return home, and eventually to Table Grace.
About two weeks ago, Gail called and said, “I’m going home tomorrow! I can’t wait until I can come back to Table Grace Cafe! I miss everyone and the food so much!” So last Monday I arranged to pick her up at her place and bring her to the Cafe for lunch. Her smiles as we entered the Cafe were from ear to ear. She was giddy with excitement, like a child on Christmas morning. She found her table and settled in. Even though she had a walker to move around, she still wanted to stand to order her food at the counter. Stacey brought her meal, and we sat and had a prayer before we ate. She had so much joy as she ate that first meal. Talking all the while about how amazing the food is here and how many people are so very kind to her.
As I dropped her off at her place, she asked, “When can we go again?” To which I replied, “next Thursday.” Thank you for assisting us in providing a space and place for Gail and so many people like her that value and appreciate the food, hospitality, fellowship, music and ministry of Table Grace. Your generosity is felt deeply by so many people!