the weblog of Alan Knox

They don’t want cake

Posted by on Sep 14, 2010 in discipleship, love, service | 6 comments

They don’t want cake

For the last few years, we’ve been attempting to serve some of the residents of a government assisted housing development that we affectionately call “the Neighborhood.” We first started spending time with the residents because we were invited by our friend Cathy.

After speaking with Cathy briefly, it became obvious that there were several great needs in this neighborhood: spiritual (certainly), physical, emotional, nutritional, financial, etc. Our family could not meet all of those needs, so we didn’t even try. Instead, we simply served in way that we could.

But, we also attempted to serve in ways that the people in the neighborhood wanted. For example, because of the nutritional need (this is a HUGE need among people who live below the poverty line), we began to take small bags of fruits and vegetables to the people that we met. We didn’t spend alot of money on each bag… probably only about $10 or so.

Eventually, we found out that some people like watermelon while others like cantaloupe. Some liked potatoes while others preferred squash. Some like beans and some liked corn. Some were happy with anything that we brought them. They were all very grateful.

But, it wasn’t that they were necessarily grateful for the produce. Instead, much more, they were appreciative that we spent time with them, got to know them, and brought them things that they wanted and needed.

We were not the only people who would bring food to the residents of the Neighborhood. But, it seems that we were the only ones who spent the time necessary to build a relationship with them. This meant we had to spend enough time with them that they began to trust us (which wasn’t always easy).

One morning while we were visiting with one of the elderly ladies, another group was going door to door giving the residents food. They gave this lady some bread, doughnuts, and cakes. She thanked them and put them on her table, while the group left and made their way to the next house.

Our friend started laughing. I asked her why she was laughing. She said, “They bring me cakes and pies and doughnuts occasionally. Never ask my name or anything. So, they don’t know that I’m diabetic and can’t eat any of it.” She offered the sweets to us, but ended up throwing most of it away.

Now, the group that brought the cakes and doughnuts and bread meant well. They wanted to serve this lady, but they didn’t know how to serve her. One size does not fit all when it comes to serving people.

Instead, we must spend time with people so that we can know what they want and what they need. Guess what? We made some mistakes early one. We brought some people food that they did not eat. But, we learned, because we kept coming back.

And, most importantly, we always saw the people as more important than our acts of service. We would gladly and quickly change how we were serving someone as we got to know them.

All of our service was for an ultimate purpose, of course. Bringing fruits and vegetables might help them a little. Giving them a ride to the doctor’s office or picking them up at the emergency room may be beneficial.

But, our ultimate goal was to demonstrate and proclaim the love of God and the good news of Jesus Christ. He love is personal, so our service should be personal as well.


6 Comments

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  1. 9-14-2010

    Hey Alan,

    As always I enjoy your posts and they are a great blessing to me. Just wanted you to know I am still out here lurking in cyber space.

    Been real busy this year, flying a lot. It’s a good thing cause I still have a job. Just having to make some adjustments to my life.

    Keep up the good work.

    Blessings,

    Jack

  2. 9-14-2010

    I really appreciate this blog and it was uplifting for my day. At first, I shipped by this blog, but the Lord brought it back to mind. Praise the Lord and ditto on keeping up this most loving service.

    I am working on my first blog using WordPress that deals with the degrees of Glory for the righteous when we have completed our earthly service versus the degrees of punishment to the the unrighteous.

    May God continue to bless you in this ministry is my prayer.

  3. 9-14-2010

    Jack,

    Thanks for dropping by! It’s good to see you around here.

    Larry,

    It’s amazing… but the more we serve, the more we feel served.

    -Alan

  4. 9-14-2010

    Alan, on your “but the more we serve, the more we feel served”, this feeling is a little bit of heaven to go to heaven for.

  5. 9-14-2010

    Alan,

    “most importantly, we always saw the people as more important than our acts of service.”

    That brings tears to my eyes as I remember trying to get that message across, by demonstration as well as teaching.

    Another reason why I believe new assemblies/congregations are necessary, who actually believe the Scriptures, and whose “ultimate goal was to demonstrate and proclaim the love of God and the good news of Jesus Christ. He love is personal, so our service should be personal as well. AMEN!

    Sadly, I believe most of our traditional churches redefine what you said, “….our ultimate goal is to demonstrate and proclaim how good we are and the good news that we are saved and others aren’t!”

    Sorry if that comes over as sarcastic and negative.

  6. 9-15-2010

    Larry,

    I agree… as long as we don’t serve in order to get the feeling, but out of love for God and others.

    Aussie John,

    Sadly, I think you’re right.

    -Alan

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