This post is part of my “stories” series. In this series, I share stories of how people live their lives in response to the gospel and as a demonstration of God’s love in order to teach us and to provide an example to provoke us to love and good works. (See “stories: A New Series” for more information about this series.)
One Sunday last November, we met with the church like we normally do on Sunday mornings. Someone led us in singing some songs. Someone read a chapter from the Bible. Someone taught. Several people shared exhortations. This happens every week, and God often uses this weekly meeting to encourage, convict, rebuke, admonish, teach, train, comfort me – and hopefully others.
We also shared the Lord’s Supper that day. After our meeting we set out some tables and put some chairs around them. Someone talked about the significance of the bread and the cup as we took the elements. Then, we ate lunch together. We eat together every week, and specifically share the bread and the cup about once per month.
But, after our church meeting and after eating lunch together, we did something different. We had already been meeting together for just over four hours. But, the most exciting part of our church meeting was just about to begin.
Several of us changed clothes, and drove about a mile to a nearby government assisted housing project to rake leaves. As my regular readers know, my family and some other friends spend time in this neighborhood every Saturday. When Margaret (my wife) found out that no one raked leaves for this housing development, she asked if we could all go over on Sunday afternoon and rake leaves for them. Many of the residents are elderly, or in poor health, or single moms.
So, for a little over two hours – until it got dark – we raked leaves for the people that we knew in the neighborhood and for a few neighbors that we do not know… yet. We were able to talk to many of the neighbors while we were raking. We even sang “Amazing Grace” with one of the elderly ladies. Some of the children who lived in the neighborhood asked if they could help rake leaves. We also enjoyed piling up the leaves so the youngest children could jump in the piles!
At one point, a man who lives across the road from this government assisted housing development walked up. I met him, and he introduced himself. He asked if we were “a church group”. I explained that we were part of a church, and that we were raking leaves to help out some of our friends who live in this neighborhood.
He told me that he “goes to church”. He told me the name of the church. I know this church and many of the leaders. I’ve asked those leaders if they would like to do a service project together with us so that we could show the unity of Christ and the love of Christ together. They said that they would get back to me about it. I’m sure that they’ll get back to me one day.
Anyway, this man said that he was glad that we were doing something to help “those people”. He said that he often thought about doing something to help them, but he never seemed to have time. I told him that we were in the neighborhood every Saturday morning and that he was always welcomed to join us. He said, “ok” and went back into his house. How I wish he had come back with a rake to help us. But, he didn’t.
By the way, we ended up raking leaves for six different housing units (nine families).
While our group was raking leaves, another group from the church was also serving someone. One of our friends has a coworker who was trying to move out of her boyfriend’s house because she decided she was in a bad situation. My friend asked the church for help during our church meeting, and at least eight people helped this young lady move. Of those eight people, only one of them knew this young lady.
It is so exciting to be part of a church that actually serves people! And, we don’t just serve people that we know, or people who are part of the church, or people who can serve us back. We serve people who we have never seen before and who we may never see again. But, we serve people because we love them. And, we love people because God first loved us.
(If you would like to see some pictures of us raking leaves, I’ve posted some on our family blog in a post called “Raking Leaves With Friends For Friends“.)