Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Connections

Our family has a tradition of sharing thanksgivings as we sit down to a Thanksgiving feast.  We also pass around a cup where each person gives some money which goes to help people in need.  One year we bought restaurant gift cards and kept them in our cars to give to those on the street corners asking for help.

Last week we gathered the gifts but didn't know for sure where to give them.  Then I had the chance to meet Pauline, from Cameroon, Africa, who was speaking Sunday at St. John.  Pauline is the widow of a pastor with an amazing ministry to her neighbors.  St. John has been sending teams there for the past several years.

Pauline wanted to thank me for supporting the mission efforts when I was pastor at St. John.  She gave me a gift.  A bottle of peanuts that she raised and harvested in her garden.  It was an amazing gift of love...to imagine how she cared for these peanut plants and picked them when they were ripe.  I want to keep them as a visible reminder of the love of a disciple of Jesus who is sowing seeds of God's love in a tough place on the planet.

God had shown me what to do with our Thanksgiving offering.  When I gave it to Pauline with the hope that she would spend it on herself she was grateful and said it would be used to buy windows for her home.  It was a special moment for me.

One of the ways we can recover our missional identity is to be intentional about creating similar experiences for our congregations.  Yes, we will continue to send checks to food and shelter ministries.  But we also need our people to be in relationship with the poor.  Face to face.  Hand to hand.  Heart to heart.

I invite you to pray for Pauline and all of the dear saints of God working for good in the world.  I also encourage you to pray for God to open a door for you to be a friend to someone in need.  Consider going on a Volunteer In Mission trip.  Pray about stirring your church to be in ministry with the poor.

Grace Always,

No comments: