Thursday, August 7, 2008

Reach Out

There are people everywhere who have a story to tell. I received this heart-touching email and I asked permission to share it, because it will help us to remember that we must always be available to reach out to help our brothers and sisters in Christ. There are some churches failing miserably at their job of reaching out and loving others, and in many cases there has been more harm done than good. This is a portion of the email.....

"While I was there at the church, I was a single mother of 3 babies, and very poor. I felt like I got overlooked. I tithed and made offerings faithfully and cleaned the church's toilets and watched the members children, yet no one knew my name. No one offered any assistance to me or my children. I actually made a counseling appointment because I wanted financial advice. I was on food stamps, drove a car with no breaks, worked a minimum wage paying job, and was trying to go to college. During the appointment I was told that if I found a dollar on the ground I should tithe it. Well, I did that. I raked up every bit of change I had and sowed it. It was $6 and some change. God honored my faith and we had a service where people gave each other money and 3 people gave me money. It totaled $287. Two of the people that gave to me were people I grew up with and one was their friend. I gave $100 to another person who was financially blessed because that is what we were taught to do and I bought my kids Christmas with the rest. There were times I would be so stressed out not knowing how I would get my children's clothes, pay my power bill, etc. and I would think to myself I must be doing something wrong - maybe its because I have all these kids and I am not married. I was never "measuring up." I too have recently gotten into learning about God's unconditional love. I wasn't taught about that much.

During that time we were taking up offerings for jets, motorcycles, vacations, etc, for people in the church and other pastors. As I look back on it now, it doesn't seem right. I believe in honoring people and I gave in those offerings, but the Bible is very specific on helping the poor and fatherless. I do feel injured. I don't have hard feelings for anyone, but I have had a hard time feeling comfortable in a church. If I go to a church and the first visit is about money, I don't go back. I have been to large churches and walked in and not been acknowledged by a soul in the place. I don't mind so much about being acknowledged if the message speaks to my heart and I get fed. But there are so many people like the man wearing the hat that may be lost forever if they aren't. I feel passionately, that people need to step out on Sunday mornings and walk up and introduce themselves to someone. When they see a person there every time the church doors are open with 3 children, no husband, and visibly poor, they should reach out to them. We were not taught to do that in our church. So many people would keep giving to the already financially blessed, but nothing was said about giving to the poor and fatherless. We were taught to sow into good ground, but most people don't take the time to look on the inside of people."

I so appreciate this precious lady sharing these things with me and allowing me to post them for all to see. We must always be aware that there are people right in front of us who need a friend. One of the best things we can do for our Heavenly Father is be kind to His children. Just to let you know, she told me in another email that she has since gotten married and is doing really good. I pray that God will lead her to a church that will love her and teach her the real truth of God's Word. I pray that God will bless her life and that she will know His love like never before.

"Jesus said, For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me. They will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?' And He will answer, I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me." (Matthew 25:42-44)


D said...

This breaks my heart. Where's the LOVE in a church that would ignore people's NEEDS in order to satisfy others' WANTS - and greed? This scripture rings in my ears,
I John 3:17 (KJV)
17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

Susan said...

I have become more aware than ever of people around me and that I need to show them God's love. I may have also looked over the needs of this woman you referred to. If so, I truly regret it.
I spoke with the Orkin man at my house recently about church and God. He's a young man with two children who is seeking a new church. I shared with him all the wonderful things about Church of the Highlands (which I now attend), but also encouraged him to visit another church he'd mentioned as well. (Yes, I did that!)
The young man stopped by my house this week. He had attended an off-site campus of my church and said he'd come again to the main location, and that he felt God might be leading him to this church. He had felt welcome, enjoyed the pastor and said the church has many things to offer him.
The story of the young woman you wrote about should touch all of our hearts. I want to be a loving member of the body of Christ and reach out to others, so that they don't have a story like this to tell.
If I overlooked the needs of this young woman, I sincerely apologize.

Anonymous said...

I am the young women who wrote that e-mail and PLEASE, no one worry about if you were one of the people that overlooked any need I may have had. NO ONE owes me an apology and it makes me feel bad that you think you do. No one really knew everything that was going on in my life during that time but the pastor because of the counseling session. I believe that everyone there has a good heart.

I don't know how things are now, but then, it seemed like we were taught to judge people based on the outward appearance-how we dressed, the car we drove or how we wore our hair. It seemed that God's favor and good ground was determined by these things.

If a person is poor or going through some things like I was, it does not make them bad ground or mean they don't have God's favor. God wants to use us to show these people his love and favor. There are so many scriptures about giving to the poor and showing people the love of God. I feel that the teaching there may have been unbalanced and we were misguided in whom we should give to.

My heart just goes out to the people who may have turned away from God completely because of situations like this. I consider myself blessed because I didn't.

The scripture choice for this blog is awesome! I just want to encourage anyone who reads these blogs to let this be a scripture that sticks with you. I am glad, Susan, that you are eager to prevent people from having stories like this to tell. I hope that by me telling mine, no one else will have to.

I am reminded the song One, by U2.

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

I like that it says that we "GET to carry each other. Good luck to everyone and my prayers are with each one of you who were hurt. And thank you so much, set free for praying for me.

God bless you!

Anonymous said...

I also was a part of a church just like the one described in the email. I pray that no one was ever hurt or caused to stumble because of anything that I did or didn't do. It is so sad that so many in church leadership have no idea of what a church is or should be.