A new book written by Isla Vista Church lead pastor Jason Lomelino details how one of Isla Vista’s more devout weekend traditions — handing out free ‘Jesus Burgers’ on Friday nights — has affected the lives of countless residents over the past decade.
Released last week, Jesus Burgers: True Stories of Love, Redemption & Miracles in a College Town focuses on the success of IVC’s 10-year-old ‘Jesus Burgers’ tradition and how it has inspired Christian groups at other colleges to follow suit. Every Friday night, IVC members serve up to 200 burgers, each with a signature ketchup heart and mustard cross, at the ‘Jesus House’ on 6686 Del Playa Drive, a co-ed duplex with 14 residents.
The ministry initially began holding the barbecues at Anisq’Oyo’ Park in 2001 but moved the operation to DP a year later. According to Lomelino, reactions toward the first few burger servings were negative, but I.V. residents eventually began to appreciate the handouts.
“Earlier, people were much more hostile,” Lomelino said. “People just didn’t know what to make of [the ministry], but over the years, that has changed. We never called it Jesus Burgers, but the people called us the Jesus People and the food Jesus Burgers. So, in time, [the name] just took.”
According to 6686 DP resident Marissa Howard, the Jesus Burgers ministry is not meant to reprimand the typical partying nightlife of I.V. residents but to aid those in need of service.
“Our reason for being here and living here is to love,” Howard said. “We are not here to judge people. We are just here to say that we love you guys and that we are here to help, even if it is just that somebody is sick and we need to drive them home or serve them a burger.”
Resident Jeremy Howard said the mission also involves communicating with people about religion and spreading their beliefs.
“We want to show that God is really real and that you can encounter him right now,” Howard said. “It is not just an idea; He wants to love people in the moment. So He works through people to touch people. We just pray for all of [I.V.] and that the people here can feel God’s presence and know that He really loves them in every way.”
According to Lomelino, the residents of the Jesus House seek to support the community by also offering cups of water, their restrooms and rides home to those in need.
“Jesus Burgers is all about love; it is about the love of God being demonstrated through His people,” Lomelino said. “There is nothing fancy about this ministry. It is merely a bunch of people who have been radically arrested by God’s love, showing that same love to others through a hamburger, a glass of water, a walk home, an encouraging word, a conversation or a simple prayer.”
To learn more about Jesus Burgers, visit jesusburgers.org, jesuslovesiv.com or Lomelino’s blog at Lomelinosiniv.com. Books are available through Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.