This article is dedicated to Garland and Sylvianna, who are featured below and are also getting married this coming Saturday. Congratulations!
Praying is good. Offering tangible help is good. Praying is easy. Offering and providing tangible help is harder. The following are some inspiring recent examples of tangible help that have come to my attention:
>>From my grand-daughter Morgan. Here are her own words: “Today God was really really speaking to me. I’ve kept $100 bill in my purse for weeks now. Something just told me not to deposit it in my account but to keep it in my wallet. I NEVER keep cash, ever! So this was unusual for me. Today at church we were informed of a homeless woman that was brought to church in the earlier service and they were taking donations to go towards her and other homeless people. Well, even though times may be tough, my situation could be way worse. So, that $100 is no longer in my wallet. I truly believe God works in mysterious ways and I continue to pray that he works through me.”
>>From Kennedy Froebe, a soon-to-be Senior at Independence high school: An update on Kindness for Candice. “We’ve passed out gift cards to so many of the homeless in New York & it’s so great to see how happy it makes them!!! We’ve also passed out many flyers encouraging people to pass on an act of kindness! So many smiles have been shared & we’re wishing Candice Jo was here …… she’d be proud to see the impact she’s made on our lives & many others!”
I asked Kennedy for the backstory on Candice, and here is what she wrote: “Candice was my cousin. I grew up with her. She was always a caring and kind-hearted person. At age 22 last May she was stricken with leukemia. At the med center in Oklahoma City she received for three months chemo treatments that were rough on her. We tried to visit once a week. Candice was so grateful, and could always make us laugh. But things went downhill. When she passed, she left a huge mark on many people’s hearts. Using Kindness for Candice, I’ve been trying to keep her kindness living although she cannot. She was truly hilarious, fun-loving, artistic, and much more! The main reason we started Kindness for Candice in New York was because Candice was supposed to come with us there to visit my sister, but she passed away before the trip.”
>>From Garland Ray who rides his Harley to downtown areas of ABQ every Saturday night. Along with other bikers, he hands out things like food, clothes, and blankets to homeless people. He’s been doing this for a couple of years. Over the four years that Mercy After Dark has been in effect, they have seen numerous homeless folks accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. On more than one occasion the homeless actually gave gifts to the bikers. Most of the times Garland and his group (10-12 bikers and as many as 50 volunteers) go home more blessed than when they started out earlier in the evening. Garland met his fiancée during these activities.
Jim Jackson, who was a pastor in a large Methodist church in Houston, once said something like the following: Some people such as addicts need more than God to resolve their problems: they need community too. They need humans to actually help them recover.
This seems like an outlandish statement until we recall the Good Samaritan story that Jesus told (see below). Giving the Priest and the Levite benefit of the doubt, let’s say they each said to the beaten man as they hurried past, “I’ll pray for your recovery.” Only the Samaritan, regarded as an outcast by the Jewish people, stopped to help. And he provided tangible help: treated his wounds, took him to the motel on his donkey, and paid the manager enough to look after the beaten man until the Samaritan returned. Jesus commended the Samaritan.
It’s worth noting that the beaten-up man wasn’t a family member or even a friend of the Samaritan. But the Samaritan reached out to help him anyway. And Jesus told his listeners to “Go and do likewise”. Thank you Morgan and Kennedy and Garland for showing us one way to do this, via the homeless.
A challenge: next time we offer to pray for someone let’s ask that person, “Is there anything tangible that I can do to help you?”
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
(Book of Luke, chapter 10).
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