The Storyteller Tells a Story of Faith…
When we hear the words “opportunity knocks”, we typically expect something good to happen. The word ‘good’ can have many different meanings, but according to Webster’s Dictionary, one of its meanings is “producing favorable results”. Again, that meaning can be nebulous, but one thing is certain, we would rather be on the good side of things than on the bad side.
Over the past few years, both Barnitz and Mt. Zion have experienced opportunities that have produced good results. Efforts have been made to help school children and their families through some hard times – sometimes at Christmas, back-to-school time, and no special occasion other than someone just needed a helping hand. Initially, the opportunities to help occurred at our initiation. Representatives from each church made contact with the schools with offers of help. Those contacts resulted in Christmas gifts being shared, food being delivered and back-to-school supplies donated. It was wonderful – everyone, recipients and donors alike, felt ‘good’ about what was going on. However, this exercise is not about feeling good but more importantly about sharing the love of God.
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” NIV
More recently, however, there was a change in the process. Those in need of help no longer waited for us to make contact with them; they now began to initiate the contacts themselves! Most of the opportunities we have had have been connected to the local schools, but not all. A few short weeks ago, Trish Prosser (MZ) was made aware of a need at work one day. Her employer is connected with Children and Youth Services, an agency that cares for the County’s children in dependency. A young lady was being removed from her home because of safety issues, and she had to leave without any of her clothes, shoes, or personal items. Trish immediately contacted the church to ask if we could do something to help. We were able to purchase a gift card for a local mall to help her get some necessities. She was so grateful. She was amazed that people who didn’t even know her would care enough to help her when she was in need of help. She says, “I am very grateful. It (the gift card) helped me out a lot.” We may never know the full impact that was made in this young girl’s life, but we do know she feels ‘good’ knowing that people care for her whether or not she knows them. Unknown to us, at the same time we were helping this young lady, we also received a donation from a local service organization that more than covered the cost of the gift card. How amazing!
A few weeks ago, a school nurse who was without supplies for her office had a conversation with one of our church members. Her annual allotment for supplies was exhausted, and she still had to take care of sick, hungry children who came to her. We were happy to help, and a week later water, Gatorade, juice boxes, crackers, nutrition bars, etc. were delivered to her with a promise of more if she needed more.
Another opportunity occurred when a single Mother needed to make a decision between buying oil to keep them warm or pay her rent. That month, she couldn’t afford both. The nurse contacted Mt. Zion Church who gave this family rent money, boxes of food for all of them, and clothes and shoes for the children. They were so overcome with appreciation, the Mom simply cried.
Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” NIV
Opportunities arise because many around us – possibly even our neighbors – are in need. We need to look beneath the surface and actually see the people around us. Some may need food, clothing or a roof over their heads, but it also could be that some simply need to be loved – they need to be connected to people who care about them. Every chance to assist someone is an opportunity to show God’s love to them. And who among us wants to miss that chance?
“God is love. Therefore, love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love.” Henry Drummond (19th century evangelist)