Our family spent Christmas day serving some less fortunate people in our community. About 2 1/2 years ago we acted on a passion of ours – feeding the hungry in our communities and it has evolved into various activities and opportunities to serve others. When we began commuting to Tallahassee, we had to stop our involvement with feeding the homeless on Mondays but that didn’t stop us from feeding or helping on other days or times. One of the things I was worried about when we left was who would continue the work we had begun. Sad to say, not many. But the good news here was that a good friend had taken on the task of organizing a Christmas day meal for those who face food insecurity.
I had the opportunity to give a brief devotion prior to our meal and I talked about Presence. Reminding people about the Word becoming flesh and living among us and quoting Jesus who said He didn’t come to be served but to serve. Challenging those that heard to not let Christmas day be the only time the less fortunate saw them – to become a presence in the lives of those who need it. As I was talking with some of the homeless, a man shook my hand and said thank you. When I asked him why, he thanked me for the words that were spoken, saying that too often people try to make themselves feel good by showing up once or twice a year but then are nowhere to be seen the rest of the time. That was my fear when we left that small community – that no one would show up on a regular basis.
We shared a present with one of our favorites yesterday. A man named Derick. I’ve talked about Derick before and our love for him. We gave Derick a new pair of shoes. The last time he had a new pair of shoes was the last time we gave him some! Cyndi and I choose to give to Derick this year instead of to each other – and it was the best present ever!
We love the passion God has given us for the hungry and less fortunate. We love having the opportunity to share some love with people who don’t experience it very often.
I challenge you to act on your passion. Whatever it is. Get involved. Give presence. Give money. Give time. Give. The presence you give can change a life, it can change a generation, it can change generations to come. Why would you not?
Several times a year we move the venue for our worship gatherings to places that can accommodate more people. For our Christmas service this past weekend, we moved to The Moon – a local nightclub. This allows us to share the gospel of Jesus with more than 1,500 people at a time!
Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m. around 75 volunteers met at The Moon to begin the cleaning and setup! Just a few hours earlier there were hundreds of people in the club smoking, dancing and having a great time. We transform the party scene to a worship scene in a few hours by mopping the floor, wiping every surface and chair and bar stool, vacuuming and doing our best to air it out before people begin arriving a few hours later to worship Jesus! It’s amazing the teamwork this group of believers demonstrates on that morning.
Around 11:00 a.m. people begin to arrive, music is playing, coffee is shared, smiles and nice conversations abound. The service begins at 11:30 with a great rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, followed by more traditional Christmas carols and then a powerful message about why we need Jesus. There was a standing room only crowd that day – people were standing four deep at the back of the club! At the conclusion of the service an invitation is given – an opportunity for people to acknowledge their need for Christ and to publicly announce their decision to follow Him. Dozens – yes dozens – of people accepted Christ as their personal savior that day! And that is why we do what we do – not so we’ll feel good about ourselves but to bring a message of hope to others and give them the opportunity to experience what we have in Jesus!
Here’s an example of how God was working Sunday – a young man walked outside to discuss with a counselor his decision to follow Christ. After talking and praying with the young man, he went back inside, got his friend and brought him outside to talk with a counselor and pray to accept Christ and talk about taking the step of baptism! How cool is that!?
By the way – the first young man who walked out – this was the first time he had ever heard the gospel in English!
So that’s how my family spent this past Sunday morning! I can’t wait to see what God has planned for all of us next!
Keep running towards Him!
Yesterday Cyndi and I went shopping – something we rarely do. It was an interesting day watching people spend a lot of money! Part of our trip was to buy some shoes for a friend of ours – Derick. We met Derick over a year ago when we started helping a local group of people who feed the homeless and hungry at least once a week. Derick is a big man! He’s a year or so older than I am and he’s got some health problems. I’m sure some of his health problems are a result of his living conditions – which is another post. Derick has diabetes. So Derick needs good shoes. Have you ever tried to find a pair of size 15 wide shoes? Not every store carries them! We found some shoes for Derick and we’re going to give them to him for Christmas. As much as Derick needs shoes, we need to give them to him. That’s kind of hard to explain but once you realize how much God has blessed you, any other reaction would be an insult to our loving God.
I have not worked for pay since January 9, 2011. It’s been a long year! But in many ways it has been one of our most satisfying years! Tears came to my eyes yesterday as I reflected on 2011. I know that every season in life passes and when we begin to tell others this story, it will be just what someone, maybe only one, person will need to hear because our God is like that! God has allowed us to use almost our entire savings this year to work with a young church plant, to provide some wisdom and knowledge in areas I’ve already experienced, to lead a community group of some of the most amazing people in Tallahassee, to travel to Cartagena, Colombia and tell people about the love of Jesus, to share our testimony of how God has provided for us all the time – even when it seems our world is falling around us.
We’ve got some decisions to make real soon financially – what does God want us to do next? This thing I am positive about – God wants us to buy shoes for Derick because he needs them and because I still have the money to buy them.