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Replay: When we had nothing to offer them but ourselves

Posted by on May 5, 2012 in discipleship, love, missional, service | 9 comments

Replay: When we had nothing to offer them but ourselves

Three and a half years ago, I wrote a post called “No produce, just relationships.” Often, when we find someone in need, God will lead us to provide for those physical needs. However, as much as the people may need that physical help, they need something else even more. God works through relationships, and when we pour our lives into other people, we are bringing Jesus Christ with us. Here is a real story that God used to teach me this lesson.

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No produce, just relationships

At the beginning of the summer, our family and some friends began to visit a local government assisted housing development. Cathy, a friend of ours who is part of the church with us, introduced us to many of her neighbors, and we met other neighbors while spending time in the neighborhood.

When we started visiting the people in this neighborhood, we would take them small bags of fresh produce or fresh baked bread. Why? For several reasons. 1) The produce and bread were small tokens to demonstrate our concern for them. 2) Often charitable groups bring in old produce, breads, cookies, and cakes that other people would not buy. We wanted to give them something that anyone would want… not leftovers. 3) We wanted to give vegetables, fruit, and wheat bread to encourage a healthy lifestyle. 4) We were hoping the produce and bread would give us opportunities to serve them in other ways, including opportunities to proclaim the gospel.

A few weeks ago, the lady that runs the produce stand (Vivian – which is another story altogether) told us that the stand was closing. That morning, as we told the people in the neighborhood that the produce stand was closing, they all said about the same thing: “You’re still going to visit us, aren’t you?” Our weekly visits had turned into more than an opportunity to hand out produce. We had begun to build relationships with the neighbors.

So, throughout the week, I often find myself thinking about and praying for Cathy, Dennis, Tina, Mrs. Jeans, Shonna and her children (Marvin, Laruen, and Mya), Mrs. Woodlief and her son Benny, and Mrs. Fort. We’ve met a few other people in the neighborhood, but these are the ones with whom we usually spend the most time. These are the people who have opened their homes and their lives and have invited us in.

If you think about, please pray for Dennis. His father passed away last Friday, and the funeral is Monday.

And, pray for Cathy. She’s struggling with health issues – emphysema and back pain.

Also, pray for Tina. Tina’s son died from an overdose a couple of weeks ago. Tina ended up being hospitalized herself because of emotional issues a few days later. Now, she is dealing with several other issues related to her ex-husband and former care giver.

Pray for Mrs. Jeans. She had skin cancer on her ear last summer. The doctor removed part of her ear, but now something else is wrong. She has also been struggling with health issues, including a couple of weeks with the flu. Plus, her nephew is having family issues also.

If you ask Mrs. Woodlief, she’ll tell you to pray for everything. But, we know that her foot often hurts her, and she has to walk with a cane then.

And, Mrs. Fort will always tell you to pray for her knee. When the weather changes – which has happened alot lately – her knee hurts as well. If you think about it, also pray for the grandchildren and great-grandchildren who live with Mrs. Fort.

We can no longer offer these precious people fresh vegetables and fruit. We still carry fresh bread occasionally. But, they’ve let us know that they don’t want the produce and bread as much as they need the relationships. For many of them, we’re their only support system. We don’t have much to offer financially, but we can and do offer the love of God as often as possible.

Do you think there may be someone out there waiting for you to demonstrate the love of God? Why not start getting involved in someone’s life today?


9 Comments

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  1. 5-5-2012

    The prayer that is there is they find peace in the midst of their adversities seeing John 16:33. We all have tribulations, and I think we all give what we have as led. Yet I have found that more people are in need of Love than food. As I think your post eluded to.
    Thanks Howard

    Yes there is always someone out there, and God demonstrates his love daily. You know all things are beautiful, just not everyone sees it. For all in all God is reaching out for us to see his love and be content in all things. This is what has been passed on to me from God to others as the opportunity arises in him. I am nothing more than a vessel as a water glass is my vessel to use when I want a drink. The same is from God to me. I am the vessel and God uses me to give a drink as he uses you, Alan and all the rest of the believers here on this sight
    Thank you all, Howard

  2. 5-5-2012

    Relationships are the only thing scripture actually speaks of. There were no methods or programs or ministries.
    And if I read scripture correctly, many new churches were started because Paul went to see how existing christians were doing and ended up engaging the unsaved?
    The rest of the believers dont seem to have been involved in anything, anywhere, anytime other than one-anothering.
    And yet, the entire Empire was turned upside down in a few generations.
    Jesus certainly discouraged everyone that tried from putting Him above the others as a leader or some one with something important to say.
    And he forbade his disciples to create different levels of function between them.
    Big ministry evangelism is as harmful to local one-anothering as big retail is to local economies, and I think for the same reason.
    But that’s another rant for later.
    Alan’s ongoing interactions with those folks is the stuff that a joyful and meaningful life is made of.
    And if you want to spend time learning at Jesus feet, you can go to a bible study or seminary, but Main street is where Jesus spends most of his time.
    That’s where He found me.
    Greg

  3. 5-5-2012

    Howard,

    Many of them already had peace in Jesus Christ. Some we introduced to him. Some we were able to help physically as God provided means and opportunity. Some we were not able to help physically.

    The one thing we refused to do is disobey our Lord by neglecting to serve others.

    Greg,

    I learned alot from Jesus through these people as we spent time with them.

    -Alan

  4. 5-5-2012

    Bringing food to needy people is always a good thing. I’ve heard it said that people don’t care what their heart needs when their belly is empty.

    When the masses were hungry, didn’t Jesus have compassion and instruct the disciples to feed them? When people came to be healed, He laid hands on them and healed them. And, one observation – perhaps a speculation – is that most of these people got what they needed and went on their way, without ever giving Jesus the time of day again. But, His love and mercy was evident and many followed Him, nonetheless.

    What you and your family and friends are doing is being Jesus to people. Not all of them will get saved. Maybe only a few of them might. But, Jesus didn’t dump people who did not accept Him and neither should we. You are a fine example of how to be Ambassadors of Jesus to a lost, hurting and dying world.

  5. 5-6-2012

    Howard, Many of them already had peace in Jesus Christ. Some we introduced to him. Some we were able to help physically as God provided means and opportunity. Some we were not able to help physically. The one thing we refused to do is disobey our Lord by neglecting to serve others.

    Right on, when you know you are led you do what you know
    Howard

  6. 5-7-2012

    John,

    I agree. When Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you,” he was quoting a passage that was originally written to admonish God’s people. If we have the means to help, and we know someone is in need, we never have to wonder if God wants us to help.

    Howard,

    Like I said to John, if we have the means to help, and we know someone is in need, we never have to wonder if God wants us to help.

    -Alan

  7. 5-8-2012

    Thanks Alan and I don’t wonder for if I did i would probably wander right back into the flesh that will never please God. you know like Adam and Eve did they wondered what the serphent was saying and through wondering they ate and thus here we all are still taking thought about doubtful things trying to get back on one page. The only way I found is trust(faith) in the living God and take no thought and just speak as led as well as write as led
    Howard

  8. 5-8-2012

    Howard,

    We do not love and serve others by the flesh – that’s impossible. However, if we succumb to the flesh instead of following the Spirit, the flesh can change our motives in loving and serving.

    -Alan

  9. 5-8-2012

    Yes Alan right on
    Howard