In an earlier post, I mentioned how important announcements are to our worship: they fulfill the injunction of Heb 10:24-25 to spur one another on to love and good works. And lately I’ve received some very encouraging announcements from my church via email. I thought I’d share a selection.
Now, I have virtually nothing to do with any of the good works these announcements deal with. I’m not bragging on myself. I just have the pleasure of watching God’s Spirit moving through his church to transform lives.
God has given my church some extraordinary people who minister with great power. But I think every church has such people. Now these leaders aren’t leaders because of theological degrees or professional credentials. They’re not leaders because they’ve been made deacons or elders. They are leaders because God gave them a heart for people in need and the talents to serve others. And we elders, well, our job is to encourage and support them, but mainly, it’s to get out of their way.
I received this email from a ministry my church operates called “Harvest Hands.” It’s been operating for close to 20 years now, providing groceries for those in need. They limit their services to families certified by a social services agency as genuinely in need.
The couple that runs it today is an interesting pair. The wife is blind. The husband has only one arm.
I thought this was a great example of what churches can do (the email is unedited except for formatting) –
The State of UCC Harvest Hands
Dear Christian Brothers and Sisters;
The Harvest Hands food program has grown so much that we wanted to share the program with each of you. We want to thank each of you for all of your help. Some of you have donated a lot of food, some volunteered to pick up food when needed, and some have donated significant amounts of money. Every little bit helps to make this program successful.
Four years ago we found 80 to 90-year-old ladies waiting in our parking lot from 1 pm until 4 pm for us to open. Considering the liability of this, we began a Bible study for women. That study now includes men.
What we rapidly discovered was there was a need in our community for a Bible study for older folks whose churches no longer offered these services. It seems these ladies were also lonely, needing information services or a place to socialize. We have grown from 4 to 20 members. Last fall we began cooking lunch. The Bible study has resulted in the baptism of four, others have begun attending our Sunday morning worship services, and a few have told us we are the only ones with whom they can visit.
When we began helping with Harvest Hands around eight years ago, we were serving 75 to 85 referrals a week. This past week — February 11, 09 — we gave out 180 bags plus 30 additional turkeys. This amounted to over 300 individuals served and this was not an exceptional week. In January of last year, we served 792 individuals in a 5 week month. In January of ’09, we served 936 individuals in a 4 week month. We have primarily served disabled and elderly individuals; however, recently we are serving more and more young families whose jobs have simply gone away due to the tough economic times.
As you can see, our role in the community has become more and more important. If we are to be Jesus’ hands and feet in this ministry we will need your continued support, with food, financial assistance, prayers, and your time.
To help in one of the following ways, please e-mail us at: [email protected]
1. Occasional Saturday nights, pick up the donation at Panera Bread at 8:40 pm.
2. College students are needed following Monday Night Devo to pick up the donation at Panera Bread.
3. Men are needed every other Tuesday morning from 9:00 to 11:00 am for unloading and shelving 2-3 pallets of canned food from the West Alabama Food Bank Truck.
4. Wednesdays, from 4:00 to 5:00 pm Adults, college students, teens, and “tweens” are needed for filing, record keeping, carrying bags, distributing bread and pastries, and setting up for the next bag packing.(between 3:00 and 5:00 pm you and/or your Acts II group are invited to come meet and greet, offer Bible correspondence courses, pass out snacks/cold water, entertain children or to pray with the people we serve.)
When you come to help, please remember to check in with Ms Vernita. Tell her who you are, what you are there to do, etc. Remember she is blind and will not know who you are if you don’t tell her.
“Blue Barrel” needs:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Sugar-free Jello
- Lite Fruits
- Ramen Noodles
- Main dish meals like spaghetti-O’s
- We are especially in need of foods allowed on diabetic or low sodium diets.
A 87 year-old woman from the Bible study is in need of disposable under-garments designed like panties size medium.
Another family’s 85 year-old uncle had a stroke and needs Depends Undergarments size large.
Once again, thanks for all your support.
Mr. Bob & Vernita Garriott and your Harvest Hands Volunteers
I’m not posting this to ask for donations (not that Bob and Vernita would turn them down!). I just want people to see how benevolence can be so much more than writing a check or even painting a house. Something special happens when you get involved in the lives of the people you serve: benevolence transforms into the very essence of Christ-like-ness.