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Thursday

on serving, giving and caring

so there has been a great discussion going on at tonia's
about staying where you are and serving and loving and being Hands 
and what that looks like,
and because i am a person with 2 cents, 
i have decided to share some of my 2 cents
{yes, i say some, which means i have some more
to share later}
so i'm going to tell a little story and
it is a true one...

he had a kid when he was 15.
and though he knew most guys would have nothing to do with it,
the thought never crossed his mind.
this boy was his and
he would love him, raise him, be a father,
though a child himself.
and so he never went back to school again,
he started working a full time job,
minimum wage,
renting an apartment and caring for his child
and the child's mother
whom,
soon after remarked that
she wasn't ready to be a mother,
she still wanted to be a child,
and signed over custody to him and
disappeared.

and so he worked,
and cared for his child,
never getting ahead,
never moving up,
just.
working.
as hard as anyone could.
then came the day,
four years later,
when he cried out to the God who is there,
and He answered.


a new creation,
he continued working,
now with a focus on getting to know Him
deeply,
intimately.
and he met this girl,
and this girl was me,
and they got married and she became a mom
to his son at 19.
and he worked,
and they worshiped,
and loved.

but life was hard,
young, married, and
yet they knew the church would be His hands,
and maybe the church could hold them up
until they were able to stand...

and the church was raising money to buy a big building,
sending money overseas to their sent missionaries,
and the church embraced this young family,
showered them with smiles and greetings and
lots of "how are you brother/sister? well,
praise the Lord!"
and the church had a picnic,
and the picnic was at a nearby lake,
and everyone should drive there after church,
and it cost $10 to park.
and were we going, they asked.
and shame faced, but
knowing this was the point, this was how the church was supposed to be,
these were the ways we were supposed to help,
to be Him for each other,
she answered,
"no.  we don't have money for gas,
or the money to pay for parking." and
they looked embarrassed at her,
looked away and said
oh well maybe you can make it to the next one.

and as the church moved closer to purchasing it's building,
he went to a bible study where the pastor spoke of giving,
of caring for the poor and needy,
pastor asked for volunteers to go with him to the soup kitchen and
help feed the hungry once a month.
pastor read scripture on how this was our duty
as followers of Christ
to feed the hungry...
and he,
father at 15,
he who dropped out of school to work full time
but couldn't find good work to care for his family
because he had no education,
who was completely devoted to Christ,
who was a leader in the church,
who gave to those in need whenever he could,
and yet who couldn't pay rent this month and
his electricity was close to getting turned off and
there was almost no food in his house to feed his family,
he finally decided to speak up,
to share his need,
and he told them his family didn't have enough food to last
until the next pay day and he was
worried about their house...

and everyone was silent,
everyone.
all those Christ followers,
all those who had just been so pumped up
to volunteer to feed the hungry,
looked embarrassed and,
finally,
the pastor spoke...
"well, um, let's pray for you."
and so they did.
and moved on to the next subject.


when the father and husband rose to leave,
the pastor ran out after him,
something in his hands.
"here brother,
have a steak." and
he handed him a miniscule
steak.
and left.

i feel sorrow,
in caring for the poor and needy we in the church
often neglect those at home,
and when it comes to those IN the church,
we so often just ignore it.
when need is presented to us,
when it is right in our face,
we can't take it,
we look away,
we 
are 
ashamed.
we will go feed the homeless,
but our brothers and sisters,
well,
we will pray for them.

***this happened years ago, and though i know not all churches would respond in this way,
it gives us something to think about... how do we treat the needy in our church, the needy amongst us,
when their needs are presented to us?***

47 comments:

  1. Although I'm more of a lurker than a commenter, I simply had to here. This is a tragedy! I'm so sorry you guys were treated this way. I'm sure that you will use this experience to minister to others who have been hurt by the neglect of their own brothers and sisters in Christ!

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  2. Over from Tonia's...
    I just wanted to say that I read this and my heart ached for you and your husband (side note: happily teary over the choice he made to stay and be a father to his son and provide for him... and now you and your other children. That's a GOOD MAN you have! And I love your story of meeting/"stalking". :))

    As one small part of the church at large: I am sorry for those who walked away when faced (literally) with a need that they could have (easily) met. And GRRR! that they didn't! I don't sense that you're bitter or resentful, just rightfully passionate-- but I just wanted to say that I'm sorry on behalf of the Church.

    I want so much to be someone who gives to those in our own community-- not just the missions organizations overseas, but those living and breathing beside us who have tangible needs.

    Thank you for the encouragement to keep my eyes wide open and my heart responsive to His voice, to His prompting, to give generously!

    Blessings to you and yours,
    ~Stacy

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  3. This is so powerful- thank you!

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  4. Amy, thank you so much for this. I'm so grieved for the church...for me...for how we fail to love each other...for this is how the world will know.

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  5. True beyond words.

    I cried my heart out one Sunday in 2008 when the pastor announced Service Sunday where the congregation would go out and tackle tasks in the community. "So if anyone knows of any help anyone needs that we can send a team out to, please let me know."

    Nobody had been to visit us since my husband was diagnosed with cancer a few months earlier (we are not very old, not that that makes a difference). Here they were, casting about for a need to meet, and here we were just wishing someone would visit and pray with us.

    We didn't have the heart to ask. I still haven't gotten over that and am leaving this comment anonymously. We have since changed churches. We'd been there a very long time. It was a grief.

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  6. this pierces right to the heart...and i take it a step further...my heart...we want to live this grand life outside our homes...love the unloveable...do I do that under my roof...do it to the least of these...do I serve my family...give and live sacrificially ...do I give up my self when no one is looking...giving me on the pats on the back...if I am not living it under my roof...am I really living it anywhere else. thanks for this...
    and what an amazing 15 year old young man...and I am sure He is still an amazing man.
    Blessings to you...

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  7. I came over from Tonia's - thank you for these powerful words. They are so valuable, your experience speaks volumes. Lord help us to think clearly and be sensitive to the needs around us.

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  8. Thank you for sharing.

    And I don't know if she's checking back, but I'm offering a hug to Anonymous. I'm so sorry to hear how you were let down by the church.

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  9. I've come over from Tonia's and find my heart thumping in my chest as I read. I need to sit and look within to figure out why -- is this compassion, anger, conviction? All of it? Oh what we do (and don't do) to one another! Thank you for posting this. I will never, ever forget it.

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  10. Heart-piercing. Thank you for your authentic words. Thank you for remaining faithful to our Father, regardless of the faithlessness demonstrated to you.

    Love,
    Jo Ann

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  11. This happens too often in the church. I'm so sorry you were let down. Blessings on you & yours.

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  12. I "found you" through Ann Voskamp's blog "Holy Experience" and I'm so glad I did. So proud of your husband and you for committing to your family and to the Lord! I was blessed beyond belief a few years ago to have a dear friend take in not only me, but my children too, when we moved to Texas from California after a tough divorce. I don't know what we would have done without them. Your church (and I'm sure others) should be ashamed...they want to "help the poor children of Africa" or the (anonymous) homeless of your city, but not a member standing there in front of them. They should have been rallying around you BUT (as I found when I went through the divorce) so many people look at those in need or in pain and are scared because it could be them. You and I, through our personal situations, brought reality to their doorsteps and that was just too much to handle...like the "bad" was going to rub off onto them. So glad y'all made it and are still making it and I'm sure helping others. Blessings to you, and thanks for sharing! (PS - Please don't remove posts because they make someone uncomfortable.)

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  13. Yes. thank you. Grateful that Ann pointed me this direction.

    I believe this, and I'm guilty all at the same time.

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  14. Thank you for undeleting, Amy. Do you know how beautiful this is? You are? Love to you, your husband, and your seven blessings. Much love.

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  15. Sometimes we focus so hard on the forest we don't see the trees. You have blessed me with your words and your honesty. Thank you!

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  16. Oh Amy - this just makes my heart ache. I don't have the right words. It just shouldn't be so.
    I remember a women's Bible Study, years ago. One of the sweet girls started crying because they couldn't make their mortgage payment. One by one the check books came out until there was enough and some to spare.
    I know things like what your dear husband experienced happen. How it must hurt the heart of Jesus.
    You are a beautiful writer. I must add you to my list. Both Ann and Tonia mentioned you today. I love them both dearly.

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  17. Your post strikes deep, Amy.

    My prayer is that the blindness of those individuals has given you and your husband a strong ministry of discernment and of prayer.

    As so many others have commented, it is a profound grief to experience these things first hand or learn of these kinds of experiences from others within the body of Christ.

    May God give all of us strength to share in the sufferings of Christ in whatever manner providence allows.

    God's many blessings be upon you and your family in these days.

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  18. THIS is what you deleted? Oh, girl! Yes, of course this story has to be told and thanks be to God Ann linked it at her place so others will read it as well.

    I just read a book called "Small Things With Great Love," by Margot Starbuck. One of the things she says is that when Jesus says the poor will always be with you, He means they will always be with you.

    Near. Maybe even sitting next to you in the pew. May He give us grace to have eyes to see!

    Love you girl. You do good work!

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  19. He that gives to the poor, lendeth to the Lord. Lord help us to hear your still small voice when there is something we could do to meet a real need thats right in our face.

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  20. so when are you coming to visit me? I'll feed you guys two steaks! (Seriously though, this is my heart. it upsets me so when we talk about doing things as wives and mothers, and so often the things are away from our families and the little sinners that live with us).
    I'm glad you wrote this.
    I bet you're glad you hit publish right?

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  21. Thks for sharing. What a big heart you have in your man. What a blessing.

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  22. Oh my goodness Amy. I just read through the string of comments and about cried. I just left a message over at Tonia's saying I hoped so much that your post would be widely read and thoughtfully considered- and now knowing both she, and Ann, and me and Patricia have all linked back to you- well, I am just so glad, because this is just so very important.

    Sending hugs and love,
    ~amy

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  23. To encourage...
    once upon a time there was a husband who lost interest in his wife....and his children...and he left.
    This wife attended a small church...no one took a salary there...
    there was no building fund...there was no building...
    80% of what was given went back into the community...
    they surrounded this wife and children with love...
    and commitment....
    her roof leaked and they replaced it....
    her cupboards were bare...and they filled them....
    her tires were worn...and they replaced them....
    her house had no insulation...and they made it warm...
    her children's father showed little interest...and men took turns spending time with her children...teaching them what a godly father looked like....
    And they loved this family...and have been loving them for 5 years...and now this family can love on others who need help. These children saw the hands and feet of Christ modeled for them....and now they are the hands and feet in their community.,
    This church showed this family and MANY others what Jesus would do....and they still are.....

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  24. What a powerful, thought provoking message. Definitely one that needs to be shared. Having walked a similar path many years ago as a new Christian, young, sick mom who found criticism from the church, I lost faith. But praise God, He used another church with women who "loved" me back to Him. A dinner dropped off, an afternoon of childcare given, a lemon meringue pie...were so prescious and I am forever thankful to those who showed me the true meaning of " loving your neighbor as yourself". This post has reminded me of the need to open my eyes more to my neighbors and church.

    Amy thanks for sharing. Ann thanks for the link.

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  25. I landed here via 'A Holy Experience" and was glad I did....what a bittersweet story. First the story of your husband-wow. My son is 15 and i cannot imagine the maturity your husband must have had. Makes me wants to know more. Then your story about how your then church responded to need within the congregation. So sad, but so true.

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  26. Thank you for sharing ....may I never forget to truly give...

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  27. Very sad but all too common. This happened recently with my own family when my husband as laid off from his job.( and my husband was the part time youth pastor at the church)

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  28. I read this, and wept. It happened to us, too. There is such pain in sharing in a vulnerable manner and having those you tell be oblivious.

    Oh, that we could really learn to love, to SEE, to heal, to help.

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  29. Thank you for re-posting this(I came over from Pollywog Creek). It's something that happens too frequently because being a servant means moving in humility to all, and people are often focused on serving numbers and tasks and "getting it done." Mercy on them because the need in their own hearts hasn't yet been cracked open to be filled with His love and compassion. Blessings to you to have the courage to share this story and remind us all what happens when we fail at His Great Commission.

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  30. It's post like these that give a clear picture of who really has the mind of Christ, and who is only paying lip service to appear that way.

    Thank you for sharing.

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  31. It's post like these that give a clear picture of who really has the mind of Christ, and who is only paying lip service to appear that way.

    Thank you for sharing.

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  32. This post is so meaningful to me because like you , there was a time in our life where we really needed the support of our Church and it wasen't there. Our child had cancer and I was away from my family with her getting treatment. My husband was at home trying to run a farm and 6 other children...he could have used some help, a warmm meal, just a visit or a gas card...it just didn't come.Thankfully like you , we had the faith in Christ and continued to grow in our relationship in Him.The members of that large Church are the ones missing out...that is my two cents worth..

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  33. ... and I read it, too, and I am grateful it was written.

    The feelings of rejection, hurt, pain, lonliness, and sadness tore through my being as I read the words of her heart. Believing the story spread on my screen was meant for me as I am a member of the Body of Christ, a member of a large group - almost too large to know who might be in the midst hungry for emotional, physical or spiritual food. Wondering who longs for a touch from Christ through my smile, my ear, my eye or the small amount of money in my purse. Wondering if I have the sensitivity not only to listen, to see, but to do in the name of Jesus, the Christ.

    As I recite with others, "I believe in God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ....", as we sing, Lift High the Cross and as we open our Bibles in pews and focus on teaching I pray that we will allow each facet of worship, centering on the Word, to penetrate deeply. And yet, as I see my thoughts through letters hit the screen before me and say "I pray" that "we" might see and be doers of the Word, I pray for "me" - that I will allow the Word of God to be living and active. That I will allow it to be sharp, penetrating deep, judging "my" thoughts and "my" attitudes helping me not to place the blame on organized parts of the Body of Christ or any one man, but on "me". I can only deal with me taking opportunities to lead others praying that I will not only be ready for a word in season, but for the "works" that will glorify my Heavenly Father. (Hebrews 4:12, Matthew 5:16, Proverbs 25:11)

    I praise God for the young woman who met the need of the man who assumed responsibility. I praise God that she took his child, held him close, nurtured and showed him God's love. I praise God for the years that they have stood together and that God has brought good out of a bad situation! My hearts lifts to Him in praise. The young seventeen year old has a Dad, a mother, siblings and has been instructed in the way he should go. Thanks be to God!

    You see, I believe that the two of them, standing together, bearing witness to us in their vulnerbility shows courage, but also shows the Spirit of the Living God at work showing all who read to be on the look-out for needs that we can meet in the Name of Jesus - for His honor and His glory.

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  34. I read your post and my eyes teared.
    I read the comments and my eyes teared.
    Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing something that needed sharing. The words you share are truth. The Body does not even have a clue of the pain that sits next to them in in the pew. The Body's eyes are closed even when a situation is brought to their attention. It is wrong. Our hearts should be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

    My heart has been touched by the comments about churches that reached out and loved and gave. To often though the story is more like your story, like my family's story.

    I pray that God will use your post widely to touch hearts, to open eyes, to awaken the Body to needs. Why don't people who are generous in other ways not see? Why when presented with needs do they not even then see? What is the answer to why? What can we do as individuals to make a difference? Other than reaching out ourselves.

    I write a weekly letter to 25 people in my extended family. I shared the link with them this week.

    Thank you so much for your vulnerability and may God bless you.

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  35. In 2009, husband and daughter nearly killed by a drunk driver...and the body of Christ rallied...and raked, and cleaned the chimney, and took care of two hurting boys, and sat with daughter with a brain injury, and gave thousands of dollars, and so on, and so on. Dear sister, I am so sorry for the failure of God's people...but it isn't always so...May He prove it to you a thousand times over. I recorded the love every day, for 11 months..
    www.steveandhannahsmith.blogspot.com. Love, love and more love to you overcomers.

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  36. I am very glad you reposted this article. It was very touching and moving, and yet such an indictment against so much of the church today which too often more like a heartless corporation than a loving family. Where giving for many is nothing more than writing a check and giving their "tithe" so as to build bigger buildings, pay salaries, and help those outside the body.

    Yet how ofteh, right under our noses, are the hurting who need more than prayers or platitudes? - even as James wrote - where if a brother or sister is in need and we do not meet their needs, what good have we done?

    I pray we might learn that while many churches may not change, we as members of the body of Christ, we can where we can seek to minister to those whom God brings across our path. Where we can learn that giving can be so much richer and deaper when we give what we have to others in need and break out of the mindset of blindly writing checks and thinking we have done God's will.

    Brother Michael

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  37. No words here. Just tears. And hugs. And thanks.

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  38. Never read your blog before. Never read another post here (but I probably will after I make my comment). Please, never take this down. As an institution, the "church" needs to hear this. We as individual Christians need to hear this. Be thankful you had this happen because now you have been His voice. I pray that you have been blessed with enough of what you need and more.

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  39. Oh, oh, oh. Amy. I am late to this gathering - behind, as usual. SO, so glad you reposted this because THIS IS A STORY THAT NEEDS TO BE TOLD over and over again. Because that congregation you were a part of? They were not the church. No, they were not. May we all read this and weep and do what we can to see - really, truly see - the people around us as we worship together, study together, offer service together. Beautifully done. God bless you both as you continue to nurture your children and to choose faithfulness, even when wounded. Just beautiful.

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  40. So happy to have found your blog through Ann's link! Beautiful! Your "cancer" post caught my eye because I have had cancer twice...more beauty sister! And wisdom. Thank you for writing and I look forward to more :)

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  41. So happy to have found your blog through Ann's link! Beautiful! Your "cancer" post caught my eye because I have had cancer twice...more beauty sister! And wisdom. Thank you for writing and I look forward to more :)

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  42. Also normally a lurker, I feel so compelled to leave you a hug! I am so so sorry that your church was not your refuge when the storm hit, and grateful for your honesty. Are we not called to help each other when the going gets really tough? I will be so mindful of your experience when I am with someone who is brave enough to reach out for support, and I will work so hard to honor Christ in my response. Maybe if I'm very aware, that person won't have to reach out - I will recognize it and extend grace first? Lucky you to have such a wonderful man and a beautiful family. Turns out, you are richer than all the rest put together. Thank you.

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  43. Lurker here. I, too, can relate to your story. My husband & I were in a church that 'hurt' us and we allowed a seed of bitterness to dwell, fester and finally blossom forth in our hearts. We ended up moving 1,000 miles away from home & family with 3 small children, backslid into drugs, promiscuity and finally divorce.

    I was lost and floundering for 20+ YEARS with pitiful attempts made to come back to church. Every church I went to wanted to know where my husband was (We were such a great couple! Such an example!) Of what, I thought? I wanted to hide, to feed on God's love and mercy, not be reminded of how I 'used to be'.

    I've finally settled at the cross. Soaking in His forgiveness and thankful that He understands. Church will come when I am ready, for now I am grateful just to worship at His feet. It is beautiful that you made it through without letting bitterness ruin your world. :)

    God bless.

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  44. Amy, thank you for sharing your soul and your story here. This is such an important message!
    "If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?"
    James 21:16

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  45. It is so sad that we don't even recognize the needs of the people much closer to us than the "homeless" in the big cities . . . and that we cannot practice what we preach!

    Thank you for being such a good teacher, Amy :)

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