Over the past 4 years my church has transitioned itself from a typical, white, seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven model to a church with a heart for the vulnerable and disenfranchised in our community. Our target audience are people trapped in poverty, drug addicts (some of which are recovering, others are practicing), felons, and others who are outside the mainstream of society. We see this group of people, not as an “outreach” but as the core of our church. We have tried hard to build relationships and to extend unconditional love and grace. The journey has been slow, and at times heartbreaking. But it has been the best 4 years of my ministry life. I would not change places within anyone in the world.
Every once in a while I get a glimpse of why God has called me to this type of ministry. One of those glimpses happened tonight at our neighborhood bible study.
There is a lady in our church that fits our “target” audience perfectly. She is not as poor as some, but she is part of the lower-class of society. She is middle-aged and has a disability that keeps her from working a full-time job. She has 2 sons in prison and her husband recently walked out on her. A couple of weeks ago she did not have any money to purchase some medications. Reluctantly, she asked the church for some help, and so I took her to the pharmacy and purchased her medicines; about $20 worth. She was grateful and promised to pay it back. I told her it was not expected for her repay, but if she felt like she needed to she could just place the money in the offering baskets at church.
Tonight, before Bible study, she handed me some $1 bills and told me if was for the medicine, plus a little more. She then said she wished she had more to give. Now, please understand, this lady is on a very fixed income because of disabilities and does not have a lot of money or luxuries of any kind. I told her “thank-you” and then discreetly placed the money in my pocket. (We don’t take up an offering during bible study.)
Since all I saw was a couple of $1 bills, I assumed it was probably only several dollars. When I got home, I took the money out of my pocket, and to my surprise she had given the church $43! To her, that $43 represented what for us would have been hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
She is why I feel called by God to do what I do!
She gave out of her need and God will bless her and us, for walking with her through her difficult life situations.
(NOTE: I wrote this post in a hurry while watching the presidential debate. Please forgive any errors.)