For those who want more government intervention in feeding the poor, I would suggest they’ve never enjoyed the “food” given out by the government in the 80s. Specifically government cheese, which was actually and more accurately labeled “cheese product”. This was usually accompanied with carnation powdered milk, or on a really good month, it would come premixed in a can. These were usually disseminated by some not well meaning persnickety old person. (the complete opposite of the old people who staff the voting poll locations) As a person in need you were clearly not a part of their job nearly as much as an interruption of it.
Somewhere around 1982 I was in grade school and my father had been ill for an extended period of time. This followed a couple of hospitalizations of my mom and oh yeah, my brother got smashed by a car they year before. He survived but not without a year of hospitalization, home care and rehabilitation. My dad was literally gone for months in hospitals leaving my Mom to figure out how to feed 4 hearty, active and hungry boys.
Mom was forced to do many humiliating things and one of them was to stretch the money beyond the food stamps, beyond the government handouts which often found herself at a food pantry much like Graceworks, which is located here in Franklin, TN.
Graceworks is like most food banks around the country right now. Their requests for assistance are up dramatically and the donations are down. Tina Edwards from Grace Works was quoted as saying that the supplies in their pantry are the lowest she has seen in the 5 years she’s been with the organization.
(see this article for more information about Graceworks)
And so it was Sunday morning instead of going to church, that a few dozen of us from Journey Church descended upon the surrounding neighborhoods armed with a simple bag with a note that we placed on each home. The idea was to inform folks of the problem and give them an easy solution for getting involved. Simply put some food in the bag and leave it out on your front step the next Sunday and we’ll come back and get it.
It is a simple idea, simply executed and made for some amazing teachable moments for Shannon and I with the kids. We were in a sanctioned “church skip” led by our pastor in answering the question “more services or more service?”
What I loved about it most was it was a simple idea with simple execution. We are being a simple voice of Love. It’s one thing for me to sit around writing or speaking about how the government falls short of their promises in these areas, and it’s quite another for me to put my works where my mouth is.
As we walked from house to house with our little red wagon and my wife and kids all working as a team I felt like this was perfectly God. The kids were having fun. They were seeing how easy it is to be part of something bigger than themselves and ultimately my daughter Ashleigh summed it up by saying “I wish Church could be like this every Sunday”. Inside I wondered, I wonder if THE Church could be more like this every day.
My friends who are republicans and conservatives are going to be tempted to spend a lot of energy taking shots at the new Administration in the White House. As a former recipient of government health care and social welfare I concur that the government simply can’t get it right in these areas. Might all the current recipients of government hand outs raise a glass of carnation instant milk in agreement?
At the same time, I would challenge myself and everyone else to spend the energy it takes in verbally tearing down the government and aim it towards coming up with solutions. What if I hold my tongue on these problems if I’m not personally involved with being part of the solutions. I’m reminded of an interview with a powerful CEO who once said he tells his staff: “don’t come to me with a problem without a solution”. It’s been our temptation to sit over in the peanut gallery and Monday morning quarterback without actually offering to solve anything.
Returning form Africa with Compassion International I saw that the Church does a WAY better job anyway. We make the money go further, we implement the services better, we make the impact go deeper. What I saw in Africa were churches whose facilities were used for worship gatherings on Sundays and the rest of the week used to feed, educate and teach the kids about the Lord. It wasn’t impersonal, rather it was very nurturing.
To be clear, the Bible never calls upon the government to fulfill or implement these types of services. It does however call on Gods people to do so.
I think it’s because when it comes from the government it is just and act of service. When it comes from the Church it’s an act of Love.
Exodus 3 is full of the meat of the Word. God uses a burning bush to speak to Moses. If I were God, I would have used something like a towering and majestic Oak tree or something very impressive. Why a bush? Why does God choose something so simple and unassuming to speak? Maybe it’s the same reason He chooses you and me. We’ll talk about that tonight.
Hope you can join us at 7:30pm. I’ll have updates on the money and where it’s going. At Conduit we are part of the solution. I hope you’ll join us.
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