Thursday, October 7, 2010

The United Way

I like the name The United Way. It means to me that we can do it together, united, that's the way. I just returned from the United Way Kickoff and realized more than ever that we need each other...we must "Live United". All hands on deck! Everybody's gotta do something, now! I mean it! Whew, glad to get that off my chest. Let me tell ya why practically, then really make the point.

United Way funds local non-profit organizations. Seventeen of them. All good organizations. Ten of the seventeen are youth programs you would be familiar with (Scouts, FFA, 4-H and the like). The rest are adult programs ranging from hospice training to domestic violence shelters. One of our favorite is Corinth Welfare Association. They take United Way money and help pay bills for people who are in financial trouble. While that is a class favorite, virtually every United Way funded program is an asset to us at Crosswind. We send girls who have been abused to S.A.F.E. Some of our kids get to be Scouts. We had a grandma last year be tutored to learn to read. And on and on.

Here's the point. We're all in it together and we need each other.

Last year one of the companies in town who gives to United Way asked if I would come and give an inspirational talk to help their company give. They knew two things. 1. We are not a United Way funded non-profit and 2. It doesn't matter cause we need each other.

Did you watch the national news series on Katrina, Five Years Later? The story was touching at a lot of levels. So many organizations, churches, national non-profits, big named actors (Brad Pitt) have rolled up their sleeves and gotten involved. It was awesome. Over 5000 homes have been built by non-profits in just 5 years. Thats over 1000 homes per year. That's three homes per day. That's awesome! Thank God for all the people who helped.

But here's the catch, Katrina destroyed 200,000 homes! So... 5000 don't look so good now huh?

Friends it's like that here in our county. We've got a lot of great ministries doing a lot of great things but there's a lot more to do, so... we need each other. As long as our dropout rate is too high, as long as kids are going to bed hungry, as long as people are laid off from jobs, as long as families are broken, without God and without hope, we need each other.

All hands on deck... we've got a community to save, the united way.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Lord, teach us how to Give.

There is an unintended joy in missionary life. It is when the helper becomes the helpee, when the gift taker becomes the gift giver, when the cup that once needed filling overflows into another cup.

We began to see this early on but it has become a pattern now so we felt the need to mention it as a principle that we are seeing emerge in outreach. If you can stabilize someone and if you invest in them love and care, many return the kindness to others.

Jesus tells a story of a woman who had lived a sinful life and found mercy at the feet of Jesus as He forgave her. He said in Luke 7:47 "her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." Jesus explained to us a principle of outreach that frankly has amazed us.

We have a friend named Tony. He came to us last year, homeless. He was sleeping in his car in the cold of winter. He had dug a pretty deep hole financially and we didn't know how to help. He was full of joy and thankful for any help at all. We tried to make him comfortable as he slept in his car. Blankets, food, hot coffee when we came in each morning. But last winter was cold, very cold. And one day Tony came in with numb feet. As our doctors suspected, damage from the cold. Can you imagine how we felt? We let our friend get frostbite right in our own parking lot! You can bet not many of us slept well those days. But then God provided another friend who got him in an apartment she owned. And he began to heal... and slowly and surely began to dig himself out of the hole he was in.

And then the principle kicked in...

Before you know it, over a period of about three months, Tony had found five other homeless guys. He put them up with a smile on his face, never once fussing about the extra mouths he had to feed (on $650/mo) or the many extra burdens they put on him. Three of them have gone on now. One more due to get on his feet in a couple of weeks. I just celebrated Tony paying his last car payment today, you know, the car we found him in. He was rejoicing because now he could help more people.

Friends, I feel like the other guy in Jesus' story... the Pharisee. Would to God that I could give like Tony. There's a great hidden joy in outreach ministries, each day we get to be around the Tonys, people who give much more in return than we ever give them.

Thank you Tony for teaching us how to give.