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.

@chaplaineliza

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

Kindness to Those with Less

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, October 8, 2014

BK only kindness matteres

Kindness to Those with Less

Ever have something come to mind from a long time ago? Something you thought was long forgotten? That happened to me. I remembered something from three decades ago, last week.

This sort of thing happens periodically. I forget some things, and they get submerged in my memory. My subconscious mind. And then—from time to time I have no idea why—the person or event or occurrence pops up in my conscious thoughts. Sometimes, I think of it as mental driftwood, washing up on the shores of my memory. I walk along the beaches of my mind collecting the driftwood, turning it over and over. Once in a while, I get extremely uncomfortable with my memories. But not this time. This was a pleasing memory. A happy memory.

Almost thirty years ago, I received a lump sum of money. I was quite grateful, and quickly figured out what I was going to do with it. Part of it went for the marvelous upright piano that is sitting here in my living room, not ten feet away from me. (Thanks, Tim, for assisting me with that purchase!) However, I decided to use some of it to help out a family—anonymously. I believe this is the first time I have ever openly discussed this. Ever. (Other than with my then-husband, at the time.) I guess I took Jesus’ injunction in Matthew 6 seriously: when giving to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. I tried to keep my action quiet, and not let anyone know. Until now.

Several times I remember—it might have been four, or perhaps five times—I sent them some money. Anonymously. I knew this was a needy family, and I knew I had an unexpected financial windfall. So, I was kind to them. Without letting them know where the money came from.

In late December 2013, I made plans for this year’s blog. I set out verses from all over the Bible on being kind. Including this verse for October – Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and will be repaid in full.” When I chose this particular verse, I wasn’t thinking of this specific situation from three decades ago. However, now I am. I am pleased I gave that family some needed funds. I remember thinking at the time of how excited they probably were, opening the envelope that came in the mail, and discovering the cash inside the cheerful card.

Other than a period of financial hardship a few years after this act of kindness, I have always had enough to live on. Not an extravagant amount, by any means. My family has lived in a modest, no-frills, four-room condominium for the past twenty years. Not much money to spare. But I am, on the whole, content. God willing, I’ll continue that way. And, now that I am remembering them, I wish this family the very best!

@chaplaineliza

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

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.

Rescue, Serve, Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, May 2, 2014

LOVE M. Teresa judge no time to love

Rescue, Serve, Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

Imagine living in one of the world’s largest cities. Waves of immigrants flooding into the city. The economic situation of the country is shaky, to say the least. This is the situation Jerry and Maria McAuley found themselves in. This is New York City, in the 1870’s. Both the McAuleys had shady pasts, but both had found religion. And, they were the first to open the doors of a religious institution to the poor and needy, the outcasts of society. The first to open a Rescue Mission.

The original Rescue Mission was housed in a donated building. The McAuleys developed a vision of faith-based Rescue Missions that spread throughout the country. New York City Rescue Mission is still carrying that vision forward. Rescuing the poor, the needy, the outcasts of society. As the purpose statement of the Mission says, it exists “to provide help and hope for the hungry, homeless and hurting men and women of New York City.”

Just how does the Mission do that? I’m glad you asked.

In the Career and Learning Center, those served by the Mission can take a variety of courses: GED classes, computer training, general life skills, financial planning, and more. The staff of the Mission and its volunteers help with writing resumes, telephone and interviewing skills, and other skills that are valuable in the world of education and work.

In the Residential Recovery Program, men have the opportunity to achieve lasting change, one day at a time, by ministering to the broken spirit. Aftercare Programs are available, too. These help graduates stay accountable to each other and assist their long-term recovery. Those who struggle with relapse are always welcomed back. And, spiritual hope is always available. God’s love and help was there at the founding of the Mission, with the McAuleys, just as it is today.

Since this is the beginning of May, and a new month, we focus on a new bible verse. From 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.” This is a call from the Lord for believers everywhere to extend their hands, their hearts. Help. Be kind. Be of service, especially to the needy, the hungry, the homeless, and the hurting people in our midst.

New York Rescue Mission recently had an innovative, moving way to impress this call from God on the hearts of New Yorkers: see whether your heart is moved, as well.

 

@chaplaineliza

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