Be of Service, Like a Good Shepherd (Fund)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, October 14, 2014

BK heart to care, be there

Be of Service, Like a Good Shepherd (Fund)

Most churches have benevolence or charity funds. They give away many, diverse things. Some give food, others give clothes, a few give shelter. I have heard of larger churches that have free classes—computer classes, ESL classes or sewing classes. I even know of one local church that hosts a diaper pantry! I even did a blog post about them—First United Methodist Church of Evanston. Their wonderful diaper ministry, Bundled Blessings, was featured at the end of March. I wrote them up in Feature Friday.

Even though my church, St. Luke’s Church, is a small congregation, they still try to do what they can for their community. I’ve written about their benevolence fund, too. The Good Shepherd Fund is set aside for individuals and families in need. Various kinds of needs, too. Except—not recently.

Let me elaborate. St. Luke’s Church is located between two busy thoroughfares. It is placed in a highly-visible spot. For the first several months I was at the church, there would sometimes be a knock on the church door, or an occasional ring at the church doorbell. Every two weeks or so, someone would be coming to the church with a request for benevolence. Either food, or money, or in some cases whatever we had available. However, it has been two months since anyone has come to the church for some kind of assistance.

I am not certain, but perhaps because of the recent opening of several large businesses and a grocery store in the area, there are not quite as many individuals and families in need. I am not convinced of this, but we can hope so.

Although, our church did not and still does not have any money for gasoline. Sorry about that. I wonder whether the reception and information I gave to several people earlier in the summer was communicated to others. I mean, passed around via the grapevine. I am, sadly, realistic and cynical enough to know that there is a sort of a loose ‘network’ that certain people have access to. I live several suburbs away from Morton Grove, where the church is located. However, I know several acquaintances and friends who work with the homeless and needy in my suburb. I have been told about such loose, unofficial ‘networks’ that organically grow within certain communities of people.

Truly, I want to be kind to those in need. (I’ve been in need myself, some years ago.) I say in the verse for October – Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.” And, I mean it. I enjoy being able to provide for those in need, and it encourages and warms my heart, too. Except—I need knocks on the church door, and rings on the doorbell. Perhaps someone will come to the church later this week. God willing, I’ll be ready. God willing, the Good Shepherd Fund will be able to serve, to give them a helping hand.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

A Helping Hand, at Good News Partners (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, July 11, 2014


A Helping Hand, at Good News Partners

I remembered something today. Something I haven’t thought of for a number of months. I remembered offering some piano lessons to several children, at reduced cost. These were not my usual piano students. No, these were children who lived at the Jonquil Hotel, a single-room residency building that is part of Good News Partners, a ministry that tries to make God’s love and caring tangible in the lives of those they serve. Good News Partners is located in the North of Howard section of the Rogers Park neighborhood, in Chicago just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. The other housing options of GNP make up a unique housing continuum, with a shelter, rental housing, and cooperative housing.

I traveled only a few miles, and crossed the border into Chicago. I transitioned into a neighborhood where I made sure to lock the car doors and be certain that nothing of value was visible from the exterior of the car. Just in case. Right near the Howard Street El station.

The families I worked with, for a brief time, were in transition from homelessness (or the verge of homelessness). The Jonquil Hotel was—and is—a caring, nurturing residence to build community and confidence among the individuals and families living there. The piano lessons only lasted a few months. I wish I had been able to assist some young people in learning to play the piano. But, I realize the tenuous situation many of the families are in. I understand—a little—what it is like for them to have fear, anxiety and worry as near constant companions. I can relate, because my former husband and I were in a similar situation when my oldest two children were small, before they entered school. No firm or continuous employment for either of us, for many, many months. But that’s a topic for another post.

I offered the children what I could—piano lessons. And, I was a kind, friendly face and voice that came once a week. Yes, I assisted with piano instruction. However, I also encouraged the children in other ways. I would always ask what they were learning in school. I tried to engage them in conversation about things they might be interested in. I used my friendly smile and my less-anxious presence (so valuable in the health care setting!) here, too. I never asked, but I do hope it made a difference in the lives of these children and their parents. God willing, it did.

This situation several years ago with Good News Partners came to mind because I’ve met another family recently. Not as dire a situation, but I was asked whether I could teach piano, again. Of course I can. And, I will. I hope and pray I can be useful in this situation. I hope and pray that God goes before me in helping this dear family, too.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Helping? Serving? At the Dump. (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, May 30, 2014

BK wherever there is a human

Helping? Serving? At the Dump. (Feature Friday!)

It’s hard to believe that the month of May is ending. And, another Feature Friday is at hand!

A good friend of mine—Alison—and I InstantMessaged each other several weeks ago. She had some good things to say about one of the Year of Being Kind posts, and I thanked her. She and her husband Ivan had been missionaries to Peru for some years, and now they are back in the Chicago area. While in conversation, I asked whether she knew of any ministries outside of the United States that really touched her heart. Her response? “Really good friend of ours, Rich and Elisa Brown founded IncaLink, which is in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.” Alison gave me their email, and I contacted them. Now, we’re connected! And once I found out about their work, I was really touched and impressed, too!

This multi-faceted ministry called IncaLink is not only a caring, helping hand offered to many of the poorest of the poor, it’s also a ministry for the 21st century. Using the tools of social media, Rich Brown (one of the founders) and others who work with him get the important, sharing, caring message of IncaLink out through YouTube videos, Facebook and Twitter. IncaLink’s work also pulls at heartstrings, because much of their ministry involves bettering the lives of women, children, and families.

Rich sent me all kinds of information to start with. More than a dozen avenues of ministry, in three different countries. But I’d like to zero in on one particular ministry, one of the first places where IncaLink concentrated their efforts: a dump some distance north of Lima, in the outskirts of Trujillo, Peru. Some of the poorest of the poor live on the premises of the dump. They eat, sleep and work at the dump, and this place encompasses their whole lives.

Truly heartrending, the idea of people living, working and dying at the dump brought the three founding members of IncaLink to action in 2006. IncaLink has grown and diversified since, but the ministry at the dump remains a foundation for their work. They not only share the love of God with these loving people at the dump—God’s children, no matter where they may be found—but one of their specific ministries is to the children and youth at the dump. They provide a way out, getting the children out of the dump and into school and into jobs and workplaces to better the lives of them and their families. But perhaps most important? IncaLink offers them and their families the good news of the love of God.

Not only do full-time missionaries work with the good people in the dump (and in the other areas IncaLink serves), but they also have short-term teams and individuals who work in special projects and specific areas. What a wonderful way to get immersed in a culture and a worldview that can change your life. Literally.

For further information, check out this video about the dump:  (And, want to contact IncaLink? )


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Helping Those in Need, Close to Home (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, May 16, 2014

little lamb

Helping Those in Need, Close to Home (Feature Friday!)

Most people need a helping hand, every now and then. Some people need a helping hand more often—whether it’s because of poor health, or loss of a job, or sudden accident. It doesn’t matter why sometimes. Things happen. Just because. Or maybe it’s because of poor decisions. Or because of some one else’s mistakes. Like I said, things happen.

I’ve mentioned here about my new position, before. I am very happy to be serving this community of believers, and there are many things I have picked right up. (I’ve done some of them before, in other positions in the past.) And, several of these job skills are newer to me. I’ll need some practice, therefore, and the community is very encouraging to me.

One fascinating aspect about serving at a new church is that I am finding out about new outreaches and new missionaries. Each church and each group of believers has their own style of serving and outreach. This group here in this corner of the Chicago suburbs supports several missionaries, the local food pantry, and provides assistance for other, local people in need. The Good Shepherd Fund is a great outreach to those people who are temporarily down on their luck or otherwise in sudden need.

“It started with people coming to the door and asking for help,” said Lill, the Church Council president. “People started to come when the church was built. And people have been coming ever since. Sometimes a man, other times a woman, sometimes a couple. You never know when. And the Good Shepherd Fund is to be used at the pastor’s discretion.”

This community of believers is caring and giving. However, I know there are a whole lot of different ideas and ways of reaching out to people—each separate church, agency, or other place of worship has certain ways of doing things. So, I remembered an idea that had worked at another place. I brought it to several members on the Church Council recently. The idea met with a great deal of enthusiasm! With the Council’s blessing, I went to the local Subway sandwich shop and purchased some gift cards to distribute to those who might need a decent meal.

When I think of the Good Shepherd in John Chapter 10, I can’t help but be reminded of the One who provides for the sheep. Whether the sheep in the sheep pen, safely together with the others, or the lost sheep wandering far from familiar surroundings, the Shepherd goes after the sheep and provides for them. As the Good Shepherd’s representative, I pray that I might have the wisdom and understanding of how best to use this fund.

Now our community of believers has another way to reach out, another way to be of service. The Good Shepherd Fund can continue to be an opportunity to provide a helping hand.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.