Jesus taught us many spiritual lessons about the ‘fruit’ we must bare through our lives. When you hear the word ‘fruit’ what do you think of? Is it a snack, a luscious dessert, a piece of fruit. Well in this story the ‘fruit’ is something else… pizza. This story is a demonstration of how a simple act of random kindness has thrust a little shop into the global scene by ‘helping the homeless one slice at a time’.
Mason was working in Wall Street but had a dream of starting his very own business, so he moved to Philadelphia to start Rosa’s Fresh Pizza. He left the world of suits and ties and exchanged them for casual clothes and an apron to start a pizzeria. He confesses how he started the business to make money but soon realised that like most business starters it was slower than he ever thought it would ever be. Little did he know that in time he would change the life of many people in his community.
The small business found themselves serving many homeless people, which long-term would potentially not be a sustainable business model. When one day one of his clients asked if they could buy a slice for the next homeless person that walked in… he got a post-it-note and placed it on the cash register to remind the team and that was the start of a wave of patrons wanting to do the same.
Now, when you look around the store – the walls are covered with colourful post-it-notes with messages of hope and encouragement for someone who is in need of a meal.
Mason reflects how he can’t believe how the little shop he started – which sells one product can help this many people in one day an how it has improved the unity in the community at large. On any given day Rosa’s feeds 85-100 homeless people.
“When things got tough I thought maybe I need to throw in the towel and go back to what I was doing? He reflects. But realised that he could not close the shop, wondering what would happen to those in desperate need of a daily meal.
Over time the word got out about the ‘pay-it-forward’ program and each week more and more people frequent his shop to not only buy pizza for themselves but to enable Rosa’s to feed those in need in their community.
He says. “It’s great to see the connection between homeless people and paying customers.”
Rosa’s now employs a couple of homeless people. People who to this day had not been given an opportunity to improve their lives. Now they are able to not just be part of the business, but it is helping them to succeed and make them feel like they make a difference in this world.
What the Bible says
The Apostle Paul outlines the fruits of the Spirit in the Epistle to the Galatians as being: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
In both modern and ancient times, the term ‘fruit’ has been used to represent, results, outcomes, successes, achievement, and accomplishments.
God’s desire for us is to be ‘good fruit’. He wants us to develop these characteristics and to apply them in our lives and in our businesses. Furthermore, He desires us to multiply them and bear much fruit.
Think about that first patron at Mason’s pizza shop that decided to pay-it-forward and buys that extra slice of pizza for a homeless person, that single act, has multiplied into hundreds of patrons coming into the shop and replicating that same act. It is so much more than just buying an extra slice of pizza, it has shifted the culture of that community for the better… to demonstrate love, kindness, and generosity towards others. What a blessing!
In John 15:1 the Bible says:
As business people and leaders God wants for our ‘fruit’ (our character, attitude, our business dealings, our relationships etc) to be righteous, to be good.
- What was one learning you can take from Mason’s story?
- How can you apply the learning to your own life or your business?
- Meditate on the following parable and assess what you can do, so that your life and your business bears good fruit for God’s glory.
“A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9 (NIV)
Special Thanks to Mason Wartman
We’d like to personally thank Mason Wartman and his team at Rosa’s Fresh Pizza for giving us permission to share these images and their story. Thank you for what you and your community do to spread love, kindness, and generosity to those in your community.
Read personal stories from people who have been impacted by the pay-it-forward donors at rosasfreshpizza.com/visitors-stories.