I’ll Do It!

Ever need someone to volunteer to help out with a task or project you can’t accomplish on your own? I’ve been in just such a position the past several weeks and am happy to report God has provided the volunteers. (No, the baby above is not my volunteer, but she’s sure a cute example, isn’t she? :) )

Many of you will remember that I became our church’s Angel Tree coordinator about a year ago. Most folks associate Angel Tree with Christmas, but many Angel Tree programs offer outreaches and ministry to prisoners’ families at other times during the year as well. For example, we sent Mother’s Day/Father’s Day cards to the prisoners last year and also offered Angel Tree Camping and Back to School ministries for the children. This year a few ladies are also sending birthday cards to the kids throughout the year.

Since right now I’m in the thick of helping my daughter plan her wedding, I needed volunteers to step up and take care of this year’s Angel Tree summer outreaches. I knew if I tried to stuff any more organizational details or tasks into my mind and life, I just might burst. Definitely not a good idea. After all, the mother of the bride needs to be able to hold it all together come what may.

So…several weeks ago, I asked my friend Lisa if she’d be willing to be in charge of the Mother’s Day cards, and she said “yes” right away (thanks, Lisa!). Early this year, I began praying for someone to volunteer to do Angel Tree Camping and have been making the need known in our church for the past couple of months as well. The weeks went by with no one offering to take it on (it’s a big commitment, by the way).

With the time growing ever shorter to be able to pull it off, I felt awful (and guilty!) to think we might not be able to offer camping to our Angel Tree kids this year. Just this past week, however, Melissa, one of our missions committee members, stepped up to organize this vital ministry to the hurting kids of prisoners in our area. Thank you, Melissa! An eternal difference might be made in the lives of some of these precious kids because of your willingness to serve!

I wonder — is God calling you to step up and fill a needed ministry position or perhaps lighten the load of a friend? Are you ready to say, “I’ll do it!”? Believe me, you might be just the one who helps someone hold it all together. You might be just the one who makes an eternal difference.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

*Flickr photo by superhua

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Small Touches

Sometimes one amazing story after another unfolds during a mission trip. Other times the tale is one of an encouraging pat on the shoulder, God’s Word handed out in a fleeting encounter, or simply a cup of coffee offered with a smile. Such is my Beautiful Feet mission trip tale this year. It’s a story of small touches.

Of course, the trip held many of the big blessings it always holds — things like renewed relationships with other area long-time team members, new friendships with first-timers, and sweet reunions with those who minister at Beautiful Feet week in and week out. Also standard were the reminders of just exactly where we were and what life is like in the inner city. This year it was a drug deal going down in the middle of the street right in front of our vehicle as we headed out to the projects to pass out fliers for our backyard Bible club. A few minutes later, it was the bullet holes we saw in one of the front doors we knocked on. This brings us back to another big blessing — our safety during each trip.

The biggest blessings, however, are the ministry opportunities themselves, even when they’re just a series of small touches like mine were this year. I spent the first half of Saturday morning sorting clothes for the homeless before going with a team to nearby neighborhoods to personally invite children to the backyard Bible club. I helped with the 3rd-4th graders that afternoon and then rode the bus with them back to the projects so I could tell them goodbye by name as they got off the bus. Sunday morning I helped serve breakfast in the soup kitchen, and my job was to simply pour milk with a kind word and loving touch into the cups of those who wanted cream with their coffee.

I also got the chance to plant the Word of God into the lives of a few homeless women. I had taken several years worth of Journey magazines (a daily devotional magazine for women by LifeWay) for the Beautiful Feet staff to use however they wished. Mike, the pastor at the Feet, suggested I try to hand out some myself while I was there. So in between my various jobs, I dashed to my stash of Journeys every time I saw a woman I could approach. What a thrill when I saw one young woman pouring over her Journey as I ran to grab a few more to take to a woman waiting out front for me. How I pray that those magazines will make a life-changing difference in the lives of those women whom God loves so much.

I’ll probably never know how God will use my brief encounters and small touches from this past weekend. But use them He will. Many times it takes many touches of His love to lead someone to faith or recommitment. Others times, God uses small touches to encourage hurting souls at just the right moment.

And the neat thing? We don’t have to go on a mission trip to give these small touches. We can offer them day in and day out, right where we are. We just need to open our eyes and be alert to the opportunities He places in our paths because sometimes small touches make life-changing differences…

“…serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13b

Flickr photo by journeyscoffee, Creative Commons License

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Beautiful Feet Revisited

Since we just got back home from our weekend mission trip to Beautiful Feet, I thought I’d just share a photo and re-run the poem I wrote a few years ago about the Feet (as the locals call it). I didn’t take my camera along because I didn’t want to risk losing it, but someone took this shot on the trip a couple of years ago.

If you look closely, you can see members of the construction team working on the outside of the building, but on the inside you might see meals being served, clothes being sorted, worship services in progress, people praying together — in other words, the body of Christ at work.

As you read the poem, I think you’ll get an even better picture of what Beautiful Feet is like. Enjoy — and praise God with me for this beacon of hope in inner city Ft. Worth!

Beautiful Feet

There’s a place in Ft. Worth called Beautiful Feet
A place known by all who live on the street,
A hot lunch for free can be found there each day
After food for the soul is served up some way.
You see it’s not just a place, instead it’s a church
Where many find themselves beginning their search
For some shred of hope, a way out of their pain,
For love and acceptance instead of disdain.
Beautiful Feet is a light in a dark lonely world
A beacon of hope like a flag unfurled
For God’s people show love to one and all,
For Jesus is the One upon whom they call.
There are those who serve faithfully day after day,
And those who come yearly to work, share, and pray.
Each one sees God’s power heal and redeem,
The lost and the hurting become part of the team.
Each year Kansas comes the talk is who is blessed more
Those in Ft. Worth or the Kansans galore.
They truly feel like family, the bond is oh so sweet
For God is the Father at Beautiful Feet.

“As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'” Romans 10:15b

Sanctuary and Shelter

With life on a more even keel for us this January than the last, Don and I will be joining others from our region this Friday on a weekend mission trip to Beautiful Feet, a church that ministers to the homeless and inner city population in Ft. Worth, TX. For nearly 30 years, Beautiful Feet has offered a welcoming and safe haven to many needy and desperate souls. We feel blessed to be a part of their ministry every now and then.

Even though Beautiful Feet is a church and not a homeless shelter, it provides sanctuary and shelter in both physical and spiritual ways. Years before I became acquainted with Beautiful Feet, I wrote the following poem one winter as I thought about the plight of the homeless. As you read it today, please pray for the homeless — and for those who serve among them. And pray for our team this weekend, please!

Sanctuary and Shelter

Cold winter night
And I’m in my home,
Warm sanctuary and shelter.
Snow slashes through biting winds
While darkness drives the temperature down,
I look outside and shiver.
Oh God, thank You for my home.
My thoughts then fly to those
Who have no home,
Those living in the streets.
Real people, real suffering,
Real needs too many to number.
Lord God, help me to know
What I can do,
How I can give,
Where I can be Your servant.
And in Your faithful servants, Lord,
May they see You
And find
True sanctuary and shelter.

“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” Isaiah 25:4a

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Flickr photo by RodneyRamsey, Creative Commons License

Angel Tree – The Church Being the Church

It’s been a crazy-busy weekend for me with extra choir rehearsal, two cantata presentations, and Angel Tree delivery this afternoon as well as the normal holiday “stuff”, but I wanted to take time to show you the amazing picture above — our empty Angel Tree.

Why amazing? Because not long ago, it held 90 yellow Angel tags, each one representing a child needing a loving touch while separated from his or her mom and dad by prison walls. Our church had 45 children needing two gifts each, and on Angel Tree Sunday, our members flocked around the tree, rising to the occasion in economically troubled times to reach out to hurting kids.

What a thrill that day to witness the church being the church — everyone working together to carry out a potentially life-changing ministry within our community and a few other neighboring towns. In addition to my preparation and overseeing the project, there have been nearly 85 others help in some way. This doesn’t even count the volunteers who will show up to deliver the gifts today. Once again, amazing.

So church, thank you! Whether you prayed, put up the tree, filled out Angel tags or Delivery cards, manned the Angel Tree table, bought gifts, donated money, sorted and wrapped gifts, made phone calls, helped carry gifts to storage, made maps, will deliver gifts, prepared Christmas cards for the prisoners, made announcements, helped me work the copier :) or did some other office chores for me, thank you for pitching in and working like the body of Christ is designed to work — with a spirit of unity and cooperation.

Believe it or not, we all still have an opportunity to serve — through prayer. Pray for the seeds that will be planted today during the delivery of the gifts. Gospel materials will be given to each child and caregiver, and spiritual conversations will take place as the Lord gives opportunity. Also, Christmas cards with a spiritual message will be sent this week to 28 prisoner parents. My annual Christmas poem will be tucked inside as well. Pray that it will point needy men and women to the “The Light of Christmas”. (I’ll post the poem on the blog next week.)

How have you witnessed your church being the church lately? It’s always a blessing to see — no matter the season!

“The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose… For we are God’s fellow workers…” 1 Corinthians 3:8a, 9a

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