Photo: ThriveCru’s ministry began out of the boot of Liana Swanepoel’s car two years ago.

By Emily Ferguson

When Susana’s husband Nathan was hospitalised with depression for six weeks in March last year, her friend Liana Swanepoel told her – without a hint of charity – that she wanted to be able to bless her.

“She would bring her car to the school I work at every Monday and give me this extraordinary box of goodies – fruit and veg, sometimes meat – and that was such an extraordinary blessing to me and my family,” Susana recounts. “It just blew my mind that I wouldn’t have to worry about shopping for that week and would have meals I could just throw together. Knowing I was supported by Liana and her church was just unreal.”

There is a steady stream of stories like Susana’s flowing through the ‘Faith Like Potatoes” WhatsApp chat. Liana set up the chat for supporters of the ThriveCru ministry that now gives food to almost a 1000 people a week through 250 ‘Love Boxes’. The group, including some of ThriveCru’s 70 volunteers (pictured below), celebrates the blessings and miracles experienced almost daily by those God touches through this ministry.

“I’m surprised every day. I feel like I have front row seats in a miracle,” Liana said. “We hear the most amazing stories of where God is touching people’s lives and how he provides exactly the need for that week. And on days where we wonder if we will get through, we just pray and we always have enough food for the need for that day.”

Liana is part of Live Connection Church (formerly Northgate Church) on Sydney’s northern beaches. ThriveCru started out of the boot of her car in 2018 as she distributed surplus food from the local baker and butcher to friends in need. That soon grew to surplus food from the local Aldi, Woolworths and Chargrilled Charlie’s, and now includes food sourced through OzHarvest and Food Bank.

“We basically went from food rescue in 2018, which was very much driven by not having food wasted, and then when COVID came it really became people rescue,” she said. “Now we give people food, but we find it’s not about the food – it’s about the people. It’s completely gone from being a food-rescue operation to a ministry.”

ThriveCru are so grateful to have recently received a $10,000 grant from Fresh Hope to enable them to extend their kitchen space to accommodate both the food and the growing vision for ThriveCru.

“When we first started, we had this little room that we converted into a pantry, but it didn’t take long before the pantry was too small to hold all of the food!” said Glenyce Gers, part of the Live Connection staff team and a ThriveCru volunteer. 

“That’s where the grant came in. We were able to extend the kitchen from being a small kitchen to a proper kitchen with a stove, dishwasher, and all kitted out with proper shelving (pictured right) so we can put our four fridges in there, and have a big table in there that we’ll be able to use for English conversation classes and community training on things like healthy eating, sustainable living, parenting skills, or marriage enrichment.

“This space is not just a pantry anymore; this whole place will be a place of thriving. The food helps you thrive, the community helps you thrive, and we thrive because it’s through Jesus’ love that we’re doing this.”

Read more stories of Fresh Hope here.