The Generous Giver

                                                                                           

 

I was in the car returning home from vacation when I got a phone call from my good friend, Karalee. She is one of the devoted workers that helps provide lunches in the summer to the children of our community. Wanting to fill me in on the details of the previous week I had missed, she was anxious to share an amazing incident.

It was a typical Wednesday at the church as people assembled in the kitchen and fellowship hall making and packing up lunches. Karalee was in charge on this summer morning and was hard at work organizing the troops when her sister pulled her aside. Becky told her a man had wandered into the church and was asking if they could feed him. He said he had been out of work for some time, had no money or food and was hungry. Sadly, he had been to three different churches and no one would help him.

Karalee stopped what she was doing and went to talk to him. Without pause, she made him a sandwich, then packed a large bag with the groceries we had on hand in our church’s small pantry. The grateful gentleman began to cry telling her he would begin coming to our church. He was true to his word and I had the pleasure of meeting him the very next Sunday.

What makes this story so amazing is not the generosity of one woman or one church, but what had happened one hour prior. Before setting up for the summer lunch program that day, Karalee and some of our other church leaders had been in prayer together. They had been specifically asking God to send different groups of people to our church. Having a heart for the poor, Karalee had asked to pray that God would send the poor in our community to our church. God took them seriously.

Isn’t it amazing that when we come to God with open, willing hearts that He will provide us with the things for which we have asked? What a privilege and honor it is to know that when we are sincere in our desires to help others that God trusts us with opportunities to do just that! He trusts us not to try to do everything on our own, but to allow Him to work through us. And when we ask, He generously provides. Ultimately, it is only in His loving provision for us that we may pour that love into somebody else’s life.

Thank-you, Holy Father, for your generosity to me! Help me not to hold tightly to the things you have graciously given me, but to be quick to pass on those blessings to others. Be glorified in the giving, LORD, for truly You are the Generous Giver. 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Miracles

I believe in miracles. I just never guessed that a miracle would involve a mission of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. During the summer months I spend part of every Wednesday traveling the country roads surrounding my town delivering peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  A devoted group of volunteers gathers midweek in our church’s fellowship hall to slather slices of bread with peanut butter and jelly in an effort to feed our community’s hungry children.

The first part of the miracle begins as an assembly line forms midmorning. Purposeful hands make sandwiches, while others stuff brown paper lunch bags with granola bars, applesauce, fruit, veggies and homemade cookies. Coolers are filled with ice and bottled water is packed in tight. Baby food and formula is set aside for the families with infants.

There is no official sign-up sheet for this ministry. Eleven o’clock dawns on Wednesday morning and through the door the workers pour in. Despite summer camps, swimming lessons, crazy schedules and family vacations, they come. Although you may not see exactly the same faces each week, there is always more than enough help to get the lunches packed, the vans loaded and the lunches delivered. This is the body of Christ at its best, working in miraculous precision.

Part two of the miracle happens as we deliver the lunches to grateful families. My group drives our big, white church van filled primarily with colleagues from my school. Distributing the food offers up opportunities to continue to connect with our students and their families. We speak words of love, listen as problems are shared, offer up encouragement and pray.

It always amazes me how receptive most people are when I ask if they would like for me to pray with them. Sometimes I have just met them and have to ask their name before I begin praying. They might feel a bit awkward at first as I take their hand and pray out loud, but afterwards I see it. It is the look in their eyes that tells me that they have been acknowledged before the throne of God as a person of worth. That, my friend, is a miracle. A peanut butter and jelly mission miracle.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ” Matthew 25:40