About 600 folks from a local church called Sagebrush met at 8 am on Saturday morning. Their job: to distribute presents in four Albuquerque locations to parents who have no money to buy Christmas presents this year, and to provide lunch for them and their kids. 200 people-of-the-pews headed to a local high school, where adults and their children pitched in to help: wrapping presents, cutting sandwiches and cake, decorating the rooms, and laying out games and arts and crafts for the kids of the visitors. The logistics seemed overwhelming, but with 200 eager pew-people it all came together.
Two teenage boys were helping set up a nine-foot Christmas tree that came out of a box. When only half of the tiny lights worked, I challenged the boys to finger through all the bulbs and replace the dead ones. They came up with over 20 dead bulbs! I told them I would retract all the mean things I had ever said about teenage boys not being productive, and they chuckled.
About 500 disadvantaged parents and kids showed up, and we saw smiles of gratitude on many faces. I discovered a long-handled dust-pan and broom, and walked around the lunch area sweeping up crushed nachos and bread and cake crumbs. Sweeping near their feet for over an hour gave me an opportunity to look into the depths of deprivation written on some adult faces. In contrast the younger kids, bright-eyed and innocent of what life would bring them, smiled up at me when I asked their names…..Daveydon and Gabriel and Indra and Jessica……..
When pew-people do stuff like this, it reminds me of two hands gripped together. A powerful combination of helping the poor in practical ways, and introducing them to a God whose immense resources can reorient their life toward stability and productivity. The purposefulness of the providers in this local high school – ordinary imperfect churchgoers – is too much to explain away……..these folks themselves must have experienced the resources of God.
A woman from the pews called Kay, herself under strong medication for bipolar disorder, told me she had led a high-schooler to the Lord. I asked how she did that, and Kay said she just asked the girl if she wanted to invite Jesus into her life. A native American, the girl lived in one of the pueblos surrounding Albuquerque. She replied “But I am catholic”, to which Kay explained that both catholics and protestants can do this. Such a simple question….and such a simple response….Yes please.
I have come to believe that a fundamental law of life and happiness is to help someone to hope. The coangel Michelle reminds us of this in Hiking Toward Heaven**. The pew-people of the above vital life-giving church know the Source of hope, and in this instance they got up and out of the pews to deliver it.
PS: the following video (just a few minutes) encapsulates Jesus feeding the poor and the hungry and providing hope in the resources of God.
PPS: 37% of unsheltered homeless people in the USA are veterans.
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers….
“If you merely love those who love you, what credit and thanks is that to you? For even the sinners love those who love them. And if you are kind and good and benefit those who are kind and good and benefit you, what credit and thanks is that to you? For even the pre-eminently sinful do the same……So be merciful – sympathetic, tender, responsive, and compassionate – even as your Father is all these” (Luke, chapter 6, Amplified Bible).
** Hiking Toward Heaven: An uplifting story of hope on earth with hints of heaven. By the Gray Nomad (order online or in any bookstore).
If you receive this blog via email (as a notification) make sure you click on the title of the blog to bring up the FULL blog (which includes the pictures).
Please hit one of the SHARE buttons below the blog if you know someone who would be interested in this topic……we are trying to expand the distribution. You can also become a Follower by clicking on the gray Follow button at the bottom of any of the blog-viewing screens at www.IanDexterPalmer.com.