Last week, a family’s home burned and they lost everything. We learned about it through our congregation’s contact in the “Adopt-a-Caseworker” program, a part of “Ambassadors for Children” here in Springfield. The family was receiving services in hopes that the children would be able to stay with their parents and avoid being taken into foster care.
So we put the word out on the congregation’s Facebook page and announced it in worship, and the response was overwhelming. Many, many people brought clothing, furniture, and other assorted household items to contribute. Erin toted a bunch of the stuff down to the AFC office yesterday afternoon, and there may be more to come.
Late yesterday afternoon, a woman stopped by my office with an envelope in her hand. She wanted to contribute to the family. I thanked her and took the envelope. Before she left, she paused. I sensed that she had something else to say.
She referred to her husband and said, “Yeah, we talked about it and decided to give the amount we were going to spend on Christmas presents for each other. We’ve got enough stuff, and it just feels right to do this.”
What a powerful moment! Two people decided to give up their own Christmas gifts for the sake of a family that they do not even know. I had to swallow the lump in my throat as I again thanked her deeply for their generosity.
Last night I reflected on the gift, and I realized that what I had witnessed was no less than the church in its very best expression – people coming together around a common purpose, thinking not of themselves but of others, and sharing the love of God with strangers.
There is no way to know exactly what the gifts will mean for the family, or if the kids will be able to stay at home thanks, in part, to the selflessness of those who gave. There will be no way to assess if our ministry is "successful" in that sense. This family might yet fall to pieces.
But the moment of selflessness was truly was a beautiful sight to see. Maybe every now and then that's all there is to being the church ... doing what we can without thought for ourselves for the sake of someone else.