Thursday, April 18, 2013

Catching a "bug" for needy families in my local community

Romans 8:28 (NLT) “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them“

I have heard it said “it’s important for us to embrace ALL of the experiences in our lives.” Good or bad, we are to value, learn from, and try to find a way to utilize these experiences (where possible) to motivate, mentor, and minister to others who are hurting or in need. As I began to think back through various experiences in my own life, I couldn’t get too far from the words “in need” when my mind carried me back to an experience I had a few years ago.

Once or twice a year, a group of women get together to hold “swap” events. The very first “swap” originated as a service project to help a family in need. The idea for the swap was born out of some good ‘ol spring cleaning. Unwanted clutter was originally destined to end up at the Goodwill; but God had a bigger blessing planned. He would use this clutter to gather a group of women for an afternoon of food, fun and fellowship while at the same time, blessing a family in need. 

My friend organized the event by spreading the word about her "spring cleaning bug." She was determined to help a family in need by giving them her unwanted clutter to sell in a  yard sale or on Ebay. She asked her friends bring their unwanted “clutter” and a snack to share, for an afternoon of fun, fellowship, and “swapping.”  Over the next several months, the organizer and her friends passed the word about the swap and many women caught the "bug.

By the time the big day arrived there were 2 rooms, an entry way, a hallway, and a staircase full of unwanted clutter from women attending this event and let's not forget the kitchen piled high with munchies to share.

Ladies in attendance received an opportunity to "hunt for bargains" from among the donated items. If someone saw something they wanted, they were able to take it home with them for free. Were these ladies in a shopper’s paradise or what? All items that were not taken by “swappers” were donated to the family so they could raise money through online or yard sales. 

As I sat there watching the afternoon unfold, I couldn’t help but think about the early church. There were similarities between the ladies at the swap event and the early church believers. In Acts 2 (verses 42 – 47), Luke tells us the believers met together in people’s homes and shared everything they had. By looking around the room, I’d say we had gotten off to a pretty good start. The early church had also shared their meals with great joy and generosity. Oh yeah, I’d say we were certainly enJOYing the generous snacks everyone brought. 

But I can’t allow myself to get too far away from another important part of Luke’s teaching in Acts. The people of the early church shared with those who were in need. In Acts 2:46 members of the early church shared with joyful and generous hearts. Our generous hearts were definitely displayed through the unwanted clutter brought to the house that day for a family in need. The joyful part of course was having the opportunity for women to be in the company of other women for a few hours one Saturday afternoon.

Sitting in the midst of women laughing I couldn't help but put myself in the picture with the believers of the early church. I can only imagine what it would have been like to be there… to eat with them, talk to them, fellowship with them. As I opened my eyes and thought back to the day at the swap, what I saw wasn’t much different. The people of the early church were just ordinary people trying to learn how to be a more like Jesus. Sounds like us, doesn’t it?

Acts 2:42 – 47 (NIV) “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

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