Pastor Shetigho Agbuke, of Redeemer's Praise Church spends most of her days serving up hot, home-cooked Nigerian food to San Antonio’s homeless, even cold winter mornings.
Pastor Agbuke is tall woman and is often in her signature African dress and a colorful head-wrap as she hands out plates of steaming chicken and rice.
It's a plate with a purpose offered by a one-woman force, a faith on the city's east side.
She’s has adopted the homeless and the helpless in this hard-hit neighborhood. They know to look for her red Chevy SUV and line up for lunch.
"Even though she has a church, you hardly ever see her inside the walls,” said fellow Pastor Jimmy Robles of Last Chance Ministries. “You see her outside, and it makes a big difference in our city because we need leaders like her."
Pastor Agbuke is the self-appointed leader and sole owner of a dilapidated church building at Pine and Commerce. She bought it seven years ago, recruited a handful of volunteers to help run a food pantry in back, and they believe this is the year it will blossom.
"The homeless and the poor in this community come specifically to see her, because there's an anointing on this place. The Holy Spirit lives in this place,” church volunteer Gloria Benavides-Rodriguez said.
"God loves this building,” Pastor Agbuke said. “He put this building here for a purpose."
Bexar County appraisal records show that the current building went up in 1950, but Pastor Agbuke claims that the lot has housed a church for more than 100 years and that she’s the third female pastor to preside here.
“There are lots of angels here,” she said.
Outside, the east side has become a haven for prostitution, illegal drug deals, and deadly violence. But Pastor Agbuke says that her purpose is to minister to the poor, the prostitutes, and the underprivileged east of downtown.
“The people are hungry,” she said. “The people are depressed. The people are poor, they get angry and fight.”
The rundown building is only the latest barrier she’s managed to navigate toward a life of ministry. She came to the U.S. from Nigeria 27 years ago to join her husband. At the time, she left behind a career with Mobile Oil.
Other jobs came and went through the years. After four children and a divorce, she needed to re-invent herself. Always a person of faith, she decided to attend an online non-denominational seminary and earned ordination in 1994. Then, the east-side of San Antonio beckoned, and she responded.
"I love San Antonio. God brought me here for a purpose,” she said. “You know how you say missionaries are brought? I'm a missionary that God sent to America."
Redeemer's Praise Church is a 501-C3, and works with the San Antonio Food Bank and other charities to stay afloat. But the church needs plenty of work. And despite the chronic crime in the neighborhood, she is undeterred.
“I love the people, I love the east side,” Pastor Agbuke said. “The east side is a cool place to be. It's a safe place, 'cause I'm here! Haha!”
She has an infectious laugh and a twinkle in her eye.
And San Antonio's a better place because of Pastor Agbuke. That's why she's another one of the people who make San Antonio great.
© 2018 KENS-TV