In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, July 30, 2018

As I re-read this blog post, the whole situation outside the grocery store came vividly to mind. I could see the middle-aged man, bright smile on his face, dreadlocks under his oversized stocking cap. I’ve seen him a number of times since, and he always has that same smile. He’s always happy to see me. I attended the New Wilmington Mission Conference again this year, and I realized the people who attend are always encouraged to reach out to others. It doesn’t matter whether it’s across the street, across the city, or across the ocean. Reach out and be a neighbor. I was blessed by this lovely man. Perhaps you will be blessed when you reach out, too.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BK no act of kindness is wasted

In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries

At work today, I discussed mission with several people. More specifically, the mission of our church, and how the church allocates mission funds. Several weeks ago, the church council member overseeing the mission budget instructed me to find out more about two areas of mission and outreach, if I could. (Especially since I went to a mission conference last week.) Both areas are wonderful causes and outreaches, and I tried to find out what I could.

Yes, I now have some further information. The New Wilmington Mission Conference is a fantastic place to start, if a church wants more information about outreaches. However, I couldn’t help but think about our own backyard, our own township. There are people who are hungry, families in financial difficulty, and unemployed heads of households right in the town where the church is located, as well as the larger community. I spoke to these friends about boosting our support for the local food pantry, and my suggestion was favorably received. I’ll repeat the suggestion next week, at the church council meeting.

I left work later in the afternoon. After doing several errands and seeing a few friends, I stopped by a grocery store. On the south side of town, where I don’t usually shop any longer. I saw a middle-aged man with dreadlocks and a lovely smile sitting outside the store enclosure, on several of those plastic milk crates. I smiled at him as I came up. I walked right to him, instead of passing him by, without even making eye contact.

The whisper of a feeling inside me suddenly came out. My mouth opened, and I asked him, “Would you like something? I don’t have too much to spare, but is there anything I could get for you?” He seemed a bit surprised, but came right back with, “Yes. Yes, there is. I would like a can of tuna, please.” Another friend of his was standing at his side. She asked him what he was planning to do with the tuna. He thought a moment, and then frowned. “Hmm. I’m out of mayonnaise now. But at least I have bread. I can eat that with the tuna.” I smiled again, and said I’d see what prices were, inside.

Lo and behold, tuna was on sale. Brand-name, too! And even the mayonnaise was on sale. I got a couple of bananas, as well. That was besides the milk, bananas, soup (on sale!) and potato salad I got for myself.

Outside, I gave the lovely man the grocery bag I had packed for him. He thanked me with a grateful hug, and blessed me. I wished him a blessed night and good sleep, as well. It wasn’t until I had arrived home from the store that I realized what this was. This was being kind. Being of service. Offering groceries to a man I knew—even though I’m just a little bit acquainted with him. He was so appreciative.

That made this whole mission outreach thing come to mind, too. I may not be super-wealthy, but I do have a little extra. God, thanks for urging me to get the few groceries for this man. I earnestly pray for him, and for all of those who love and care for him. And, thanks for the wonderful idea to get him groceries, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a meditation journey through Pentecost and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!) (also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

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Being Kind, Sharing Stories (#BestOf)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, July 24, 2016

New Wilmington Mission Conference! A marvelous experience. This week of the summer is the 111th conference here in New Wilmington, at the multi-generational conference. My daughter is here with me, again. A wonderful place to connect with people from not only all over the country, but all over the world. Every year there are significant stories to share and to hear. (I’ve heard several already, and I have only been here a day and a half.) God bless the New Wilmington Mission Conference, and the many, many people who attend!

NWMC theme verse from July 2016

NWMC theme verse
from July 2016

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, July 21, 2014

Being Kind, Sharing Stories

Such a plethora of stories today! Bits and pieces from all over. All kinds of fantastic ideas, and new thoughts, and different methods. My mind is running on overdrive, just from all of the excellent input. New Wilmington Mission Conference is truly a unique gathering.

Some people I know, others are new. Some of these stories are continuations from last summer or several summers before. Other parts are stunning. Or heart-breaking. Or chilling. I shake my head in amazement, or dread, or sheer joy.

And, I have been sharing some of my story, as well. The good parts as well as the not-so-good parts. I want to be honest and open with many of these dear people. That’s the kind of place this conference is. That’s the nature of the continuing relationship I have built up over more than fifteen years of being here in this place, at this conference.

It’s good to be here and to see friends again. Friends I have deep relationships with, but friends I only see once a year, for just a handful of days (if that).

I pray for this gathering. I ask God to richly bless the marvelous works that come out of this conference. (And, have come out of this place, for over one hundred years.) Some of these young, old, and middle-aged people are first-timers, and others have come back again and again for thirty, forty, even fifty years.

Just amazing. God, bless the people who come to this place. Bless those who were unable to be here, for whatever reason. And God—bless Your work in the world, wherever Your people gather.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Helping on World Food Day 2014 (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 17, 2014

bread for myself, for my neighbor

Helping on World Food Day 2014 (Feature Friday!)

Yesterday was World Food Day, Thursday, October 16, 2014, instituted by the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. This organization heightens public awareness of widespread hunger and world food problems. World Food Day also helps to build and strengthen solidarity and unity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Each day, millions around the world—from countless regions—go hungry. World Food Day strives to lessen that hunger.

I followed the links for #WorldFoodDay on Twitter. I came to http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/what-is-wfd : Amid many heart-rending statistics at this website, I found several that particularly hit home to me, as a woman and a mom. Here they are: “In a world of plenty, 805 million people, one in nine worldwide, live with chronic hunger. The costs of hunger and malnutrition fall heavily on the most vulnerable.

  • “60% of the hungry in the world are women.
  • Almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related causes every year.
  • 4 in 10 children in poor countries are malnourished, damaging their bodies and brains.”

These statistics are mind boggling to me. I cannot even take them in. However, I can try to do a little bit. I can strive to make a difference, when and where I can. For example, helping, and raising awareness about the excellent work Stop Hunger Now! is currently doing.

In both July and August, I wrote about the mission Stop Hunger Now! I told of one of their meal-packaging efforts at a mission conference I attended. This ministry opportunity was the 2014 service project for the New Wilmington Mission Conference (NWMC), informing and promoting active service and witness for God. A nutritious mix of rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and flavoring mix is packed by volunteer teams for Stop Hunger Now!, and sent all over the world. For a cost of just $0.29 per meal, too! What a caring, effective way to feed the hungry, where hunger is currently devastating lives. Through this ministry, the volunteers also strive to be the hands and feet of Christ.

Stop Hunger Now! has the same goal as so many other organizations—UNICEF, World Vision, Tearfund, Lutheran World Relief, the Presbyterian Hunger Programme, Compassion International, and so many more—to work towards eliminating hunger in our world today. May God be with these many people and these many groups doing the work of God. Feeding the hungry. Giving food and drink—just as Jesus commanded in Matthew 26:35-36.

On her blog Godspace, Christine Sine has a beautiful prayer for World Food Day. It’s found at: http://godspace-msa.com/2014/10/15/its-world-food-day-prayers-and-resources/ (thanks, Christine!).

@chaplaineliza

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

In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 29, 2014

small things with great love

In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries

At work today, I discussed mission with several people. More specifically, the mission of our church, and how the church allocates mission funds. Several weeks ago, the church council member overseeing the mission budget instructed me to find out more about two areas of mission and outreach, if I could. (Especially since I went to a mission conference last week.) Both areas are wonderful causes and outreaches, and I tried to find out what I could.

Yes, I now have some further information. The New Wilmington Mission Conference is a fantastic place to start, if a church wants more information about outreaches. However, I couldn’t help but think about our own backyard, our own township. There are people who are hungry, families in financial difficulty, and unemployed heads of households right in the town where the church is located, as well as the larger community. I spoke to these friends about boosting our support for the local food pantry, and my suggestion was favorably received. I’ll repeat the suggestion next week, at the church council meeting.

I left work later in the afternoon. After doing several errands and seeing a few friends, I stopped by a grocery store. On the south side of town, where I don’t usually shop any longer. I saw a middle-aged man with dreadlocks and a lovely smile sitting outside the store enclosure, on several of those plastic milk crates. I smiled at him as I came up. I walked right to him, instead of passing him by, without even making eye contact.

The whisper of a feeling inside me suddenly came out. My mouth opened, and I asked him, “Would you like something? I don’t have too much to spare, but is there anything I could get for you?” He seemed a bit surprised, but came right back with, “Yes. Yes, there is. I would like a can of tuna, please.” Another friend of his was standing at his side. She asked him what he was planning to do with the tuna. He thought a moment, and then frowned. “Hmm. I’m out of mayonnaise now. But at least I have bread. I can eat that with the tuna.” I smiled again, and said I’d see what prices were, inside.

Lo and behold, tuna was on sale. Brand-name, too! And even the mayonnaise was on sale. I got a couple of bananas, as well. That was besides the milk, bananas, soup (on sale!) and potato salad I got for myself.

Outside, I gave the lovely man the grocery bag I had packed for him. He thanked me with a grateful hug, and blessed me. I wished him a blessed night and good sleep, as well. It wasn’t until I had arrived home from the store that I realized what this was. This was being kind. Being of service. Offering groceries to a man I knew—even though I’m just a little bit acquainted with him. He was so appreciative.

That made this whole mission outreach thing come to mind, too. I may not be super-wealthy, but I do have a little extra. God, thanks for urging me to get the few groceries for this man. I earnestly pray for him, and for all of those who love and care for him. And, thanks for the wonderful idea to get him groceries, too.

@chaplaineliza

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

Come and See—See Where I Can Help

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, July 20, 2014

SERVE because Christ served

Come and See—See Where I Can Help

Another day, another conference. Just before noon today, I went from the National Assembly of the Federation of Christian Minstries to the New Wilmington Mission Conference. A mission conference of the Presbyterian Church (USA), I’ve attended NWMC for a number of years—always before with at least one of my children in tow. Not this year. But, it’s great to see what is going on in outreach and misson, all around the world.

I especially wanted to see the mission fair on Sunday afternoon, where many different mission and outreach agencies (local, regional and international) come to share their message. Their story. Come and see. Come and see what these different outreaches are doing. How they are touching lives. What a difference they are making. Come and see.

Then, in evening meeting at the outdoor auditorium, I heard the call again. Come and see. The speaker for the evening (Rev. John McCall) gave an excellent message with some heart-touching illustrations from his time in Taiwan. As he repeated, come and see.

I take this to mean, “Come and see where I can serve. Where I can help. Where I can be kind.”

I may not be able to go to another area of the country, or overseas, to serve any time soon. But I can certainly go to where people are hurting, or lonely, or anxious. I can carry the good news of God to people in need. Or, to someone who is homebound and lonely. Or, to those who are anxious, and in need of prayer. In need of someone to come alongside of them, to journey with them. If I come and see where the needs are, then I can go out and serve. Help. Be kind.

As my friend Stuart mentioned to me over dinner tonight, he and several others from his church helped some refugees from the Middle East move into an apartment recently. He saw where the needs were, and he responded. He helped. He was kind to a family he didn’t even know. And this family has opened their hearts and their doors to my friend and the other couple from their church. The family from the Middle East considers these Americans to be part of their extended family now. Because my friend saw this family’s need for some used furniture and kitchen supplies, and helped them move into an apartment, this refugee family is now so grateful and thankful. They feel welcomed and encouraged. Such a small thing, and yet how needed.

Come and see where the needs are? Go and serve.

@chaplaineliza

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Diplomat for God (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, May 23, 2014

Mahmoud Pasha Mosque, Cairo  (photo credit Matt Lepkowski-2005)

Mahmoud Pasha Mosque, Cairo
(photo credit Matt Lepkowski-2005)

 

Diplomat for God (Feature Friday!)

My friend Dan? Great guy! My friend Dan? Generous, kind, ready to be of service. My friend Dan? Always ready to lend a hand or lend an ear.

And—my friend Dan? Associate Director of Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship for the Midwest United States. Pretty long title for a heckuva guy. He fills the shoes of that big title, to be sure. He started out studying to be in the diplomatic service in school. He was fascinated by this subject, for years. (Even as a child, he remembers.) But his life took a different turn, and he started his career in the business world. Until—God brought Dan to a realization: “similar to the apostle Matthew, in that, hearing the Good News, I got up from my agricultural trading desk . . . and decided to follow Jesus wherever He may lead me. The ride has been incredible ever since.”

Doing cross-cultural work immediately upon going to Costa Rica, Dan fell in love with mission work. Long story short, he attended seminary, became ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and started working as an associate pastor in the Chicago suburbs. With a focus on mission in his life and ministry, he helped people from this area experience cross-cultural missions.

After accepting a position with Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship in 1996, he has since been focused on helping connect people. Connecting people from the Midwest area of the United States with small groups of believers and newly-planted churches—in frontier areas, all around the world. These are small groups looking for a connection! And Dan is a marvelous connector. A diplomat for God. On behalf of the Gospel, he introduces fellow believers in Christ from halfway around the world to each other. For support, for friendship, for fellowship.

One area where Dan finds open doors is in making bridges. For a number of years, he has been leading trips to Egypt (supporting the Presbytery of Egypt). He has grown, too, in his support for Christian communities within the Arabic-speaking world. But through this work in the Middle East, he also has been drawn to building bridges to Islam and to Muslims in the Chicago area. Dan says, “In fact, I have recently started an Islam study group for the northern suburbs of Chicago. . . . I care deeply that the Muslim world gain access to the Good News of Jesus Christ through these kinds of dialogues and relationships.”

What a reconciling work, what an opportunity for service. Overcoming fears, anxieties, and separation in a number of areas. Building bridges. Being a diplomat for God. Yes, that’s my friend Dan!

@chaplaineliza

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Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GRATEFUL gratitude changes things

Reach Out, and Be Kind to Someone!

So today is Wednesday, the day when I facilitate a bible study at my work. I’ve been leading a series of studies on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ, since Easter. (Another week, another post-Resurrection appearance!)

Before the bible study started, I met with Mary, the church council member in charge of the mission effort at this church. Yes, it is a small church. However—this church has a great track record, as far as supporting outreach into the wider world! It was instructive for me to see exactly where this church’s support went, and what they thought was (and is!) important.

This started me thinking about the verse for the month of May—my verse for A Year of Being Kind. Deuteronomy 15:11 – “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward the poor and needy in your land.” What a verse for outreach! Whether you (or I) think of outreach as mission effort, or helping the community, or giving others “a cup of cold water,” this verse from Deuteronomy makes me think, hard.

This verse comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically, the five books of Moses, or the Torah. My youngest daughter and I just had an in-depth conversation about the books of the Law, earlier this week. She (who is going to declare an English major at college this fall) recently read several chapters in a related book, Leviticus. She made the insightful comment that many of the laws and statutes of the Mosaic Law Code were eminently sensible.

For instance, take this command: being kind and considerate to the poor and needy serves a communal purpose. It brings individuals into community, solidarity with each other. And, it helps people who truly need a hand. This command gives everyone a chance to be grateful—to the givers, for being blessed with resources to give away, and to the receivers, for being blessed with the resources freely given.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about the land of Israel, two thousand years before the Christian Era, or about modern-day middle America—the suburban Chicago area, in fact. The poor and needy are still here, and we are still called, still commanded to be openhanded towards all those who are in need. God, help me to see where I can help. Be of service. Be kind to others. Lead me towards areas where You want me to get involved.

Learning more about mission? Learning more about outreach? Learning more about gratitude? What better way to spend the morning?

@chaplaineliza

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