I learned an important lesson, when I missed out on helping a young mother purchase $7.43 worth of baby food. That mistake guided me through the years to be on the lookout for opportunities God provides to help others. Are there risks involved? Certainly! Becoming more proactive in helping those struggling with poverty is never easy but critically important!
Ray Buchanan, founder of ‘Stop Hunger Now’ wrote: “I believe in miracles. I also believe that the church exists for mission. The two belong together. Miracles and mission are integrally linked; inseparable, in fact…” – From “Getting Off Our Buts”
The church exists for mission: miracles and mission are integrally linked; inseparable? What does that mean? Here is a great example:
Recently, I sent an email to our church family: “There is a young mother with two young children who recently received subsidized housing after being in an unwed mother’s home. They have a place to live but no furniture and few household items. They need tables and household goods such as towels, dishes and other things. If you have anything, let me know.”
Within minutes, emails and messages flooded my inbox…
• We have a queen box spring and mattress.
• We have a kitchen table and chairs and bath towels, cups/glasses, and toys for the girls.
• Can you use a microwave? Also, 2 rugs, a set of dishes.
• I have little girl’s clothes and toys and a toaster.
• We have a couch, end tables and lamps.
• I have a truck and will be glad to help deliver everything.
• We have a changing table/dresser and an entertainment center.
Nearly a hundred emails and Facebook messages poured in offering help. A plea for a few household items was turning into an overwhelming deluge of furniture, dishes, towels, toys and children’s clothing. Within hours, people were coming to the church and dropping items in our hallway that eventually filled one of our classrooms and a storage area. Far more than any one family could ever use. Many more people were waiting on further delivery instructions.
What started as a simple request for help, exposed a potential new mission that could connect people who possess an abundance of furniture and household items with people just starting out and who have virtually no furniture or household items of their own.
If missions and miracles were integrally linked, this new mission desperately needed a miracle. Who was going to coordinate and manage the donated stuff? Who would arrange delivery? How could we find out who needed help with furniture and household items? Where would we store everything?
In Ecclesiastes, God provides an answer: “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. (11:4-6)
In other words: “God regularly provides opportunities but if you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. Plant your seed, keep busy and trust God for the harvest.”
Seeds were planted by a young woman in need but God provided a bigger harvest. First came an offer to organize donations to a spreadsheet. Then, a couple volunteered to meet the young family and manage the donations. Within a few days, we were delivering furniture, household items, toys and clothing to our young family. The tears of thanks in her eyes and the joy on the faces of the children said it all.
But God wasn’t through. Our organizing couple full of excitement wrote: “It looks like we’re doing good at meeting her material needs, so we want to talk about the way forward. We know there are others who need a hand with initial furnishings and home goods. We’d like to help grow this mission to meet such needs. Do you see this as doable?”
Within days we had a “Furniture Team” working with Micah, a local ministry helping the homeless. We gathered leaders from other agencies to organize a “Furniture Bank” to process, store and deliver furniture and household goods to those in need. We are currently organizing, recruiting volunteers, raising funds and looking for storage space.
I can never fix the mistake of failing to help a family needing $7.43 worth of baby food but the lessons learned provided for another family needing furniture. God then grew that mission seed into a miracle harvest that will provide furniture and household goods for many more families.
The church exists for mission: miracles and mission are integrally linked. God regularly provides opportunities but if you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done. Plant your seed, keep busy and trust God for the harvest.
Now, do you have any furniture or household items to donate to our new “Furniture Bank?”