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Ramen Soup for the Soul

Moody online alumna helps bring community together for a meal and the gospel
  • Eric Romero
  • September 29, 2023

Moody Bible Institute online alumna Anna Potter


Anna Potter ’21 wanted to impact her community by planting seeds of the gospel. So she cofounded a unique food-service ministry that provides free meals for the needy—and the love of Christ to all who enter.

Not a typical bowl of noodles

Located on the bottom floor of Anna’s church, Calvary Chapel in Sequim, Washington, a suburb of Seattle, The Ramen Shop is a bustling neighborhood restaurant. It features a storefront, dining area, and service section where patrons create delicious bowls of noodles from an assortment of meats, toppings, sauces, and seasonings in the style of Subway or Chipotle.

But unlike those popular eateries, The Ramen Shop is sustained entirely by donations.

As a nonprofit business with a creative ministry model, the restaurant operates entirely on whatever customers are willing to give for their meal. Anna, who earned an online bachelor’s degree in Integrated Ministry Studies from Moody in 2021, and her pastors have devised a suggested donation structure designed to cover most operating costs.

Following the pay-it-forward principle, patrons can donate $6 to cover the cost of the ingredients, $8 for ingredients and support for the shop’s two paid employees (Anna and her senior pastor), and $12 for two bowls, the second bowl becoming a free meal for someone who can’t pay.

Along with her church’s associate pastor, David Rivers, Anna oversees the daily operations of the restaurant and its team of volunteers. The shop is open for business from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Hot meals, helping hands, and lonely hearts

Since opening its doors on April 11, 2022, The Ramen Shop has made its mark on the community. Primarily, it helps get free hot meals to people who need them.

“We do about 50 free meals a week,” Anna says. “Most of those are for the homeless in the area. Whoever walks in gets a meal—no questions asked.”

It also gives patrons who pay an opportunity to help care for the less fortunate in the area. Anna says that out of the 200 customers served each week, about 75 percent pay at least $8. “It’s been amazing how generous the community has been,” she says. “Those that donate can impact a life in a tangible way—sometimes giving $20, $40, or even $50 for a meal.”

Perhaps most importantly, The Ramen Shop serves as an effective yet nonintrusive way to advance the gospel to its clientele. The restaurant is an openly Christian ministry—Mark 6:34–40 and Matthew 25:35–40 are highlighted on its website. But each bowl of ramen is served with a smiling face and an extra helping of kindheartedness on the side.

A bowl of ramen noodles at The Ramen Shop


“We’re not pushy about preaching in the restaurant,” Anna says. “But the people frequently tell us they feel loved here. We get so many good reviews about the kindness of our volunteers.”

The restaurant offers a prayer box for patrons, and it’s not uncommon for them to ask for prayer right there in the restaurant.

“The amount of prayer requests we get every day is amazing,” Anna says. “They open up to us about their struggles. One day I noticed a woman crying. Her partner was just arrested and now she felt alone. She allowed me to pray with her and comfort her. She seemed to really be touched by that.”

Sometimes these impromptu prayer sessions lead to patrons attending her church upstairs, where further seeds of the gospel can be nurtured.

‘Seeing Jesus through us’

Anna says her online training from Moody was invaluable in working with her pastors to get The Ramen Shop off the ground and running.

“Classes like ‘Planning New Ministry Ventures’ taught me a lot about how a ministry’s mission, vision, and values need to be clear,” she says. “It really helped me understand everything that goes into running a ministry.”

No stranger to virtual classes, Anna was also impressed with how proactively her instructors interacted with students.

“I was surprised with the level of attention of my online teachers and how much time they invested in students,” she says. “I loved moving at my own pace and choosing classes that really interested me. The quality of teaching was amazing.”

Another memorable class was “Ministry to Women in Pain” with Dr. Cheryl Parker. “She really taught me how to have compassion for people,” Anna says. “Sometimes there are no words to tell people—they just need me to listen, even if I can’t fix their problems.”

When asked why she founded The Ramen Shop, Anna answers “to be a blessing to people so that they see Jesus through us.” For Anna, her church, and the volunteers, this means watching God work in people’s lives while bringing the community together through something as simple as a bowl of noodles.

About the Author

  • Eric Romero

Eric Romero is an editor for Marketing Communications at Moody Bible Institute.