Are you a caregiver, someone who works to gather people and funds to help those in your community? Many lack the basic needs of life – food, heat, clothes and electricity. Children who do not have a warm house to come home to, no food for those empty tummies, no warm, clean bed to crawl into. Are you one of those that step up to the plate? Perhaps you are the one to take these concerns to your community or your church, and you feel as I sometimes do. That I am just making a lot of noise, when people see us coming they want to run and turn their backs.
I have been struggling of late. These scriptures have been running in my head like a looped tape.
- 2 Corinthians 12: 7 …I was given a thorn in my flesh. Now I know Paul was given a thorn to keep him from becoming proud. But maybe I am a thorn in the flesh to others.
- 1 Corinthians 13:1 …but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong. I think I do love others, but in doing so am I just a noisy gong.
- Acts 26:14 …It is hard for you to kick against the goads. Is that what I have been doing, trying to get my ideas, my heart across to others, just kicking against the goads. Becoming bloody and hurt.
- Matthew 10:14 …or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. Is that what I have to do, suck it up, swallow it, and accept the fact that what I am trying “sell” is a product they do not want?
The Heart of Missions
As a member of my church’s mission team, my responsibility is outreach in our local area. I was not given or asked to take that position. It is self-appointed, something I love, and maybe I have pushed it too hard. I know when Jesus gave the order to go out and take the message of the gospel, he said to all nations. Although I do have a heart for foreign missions and support them, my real love and heart is my community. Did Jesus mean only foreign lands? Or does that include our country, our neighborhoods and our communities? If I lived in another country, then this country would be a foreign land. Right?
I was recently told or perhaps my interpretation of what I was told is “you feel deeply – others don’t. Do not lay your feelings, concerns so strongly on others. They do not feel the same way, and in some cases, they don’t care.” Maybe I am trying to shove it down their throats.
The song by Bob Dylan immediately starting playing in my head Blowing in the Wind.
How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see
How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry
Am I being dramatic? Maybe, but when it come to this subject, I get a bit passionate.
We have a responsibility to care for people in need. In Matt 10:8-10, Jesus told his disciples to take no provision. Was He telling them to depend on God to provide what they would need? Did God intend to send manna from the sky, partridges in the wind? Little shacks for them to live in or clothes for their bodies, beds to rest in; I don’t think so. Jesus was saying God will send the people to provide for you and your physical needs, and ears to hear your message. And, if they choose not then shake the dust from your shoes and move on. As a caregiver is that what I should do? Chalk it up to experience and move on?
Seeing the Needs Around Us
I am in my mid-seventies and have been a born again Christian for less than a decade. I always believed in God, knew who Jesus was, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. On the other hand, I have always cared very deeply for people, helping them whenever I was able. Wanting to even when I couldn’t or didn’t know how. Since becoming a Christian and having a relationship with my Lord and Savior that passion only burns brighter. And I have been given the honor to serve on three outreach boards in my county, a county smaller in numbers but enormous in poverty. Our area is a resort community where people love to live in the summer but go elsewhere in the winter. This makes for a stunning place to live but when fall, winter, and spring arrive the job market becomes a struggle for most making the mere basics of living an even greater struggle. Salvation Army has a small homeless shelter in the county; it is most always full of people waiting to get in. It is common in our county for people to be found huddled in their cars or sleeping in various shelters to get out of the elements. We have found families living in campers designed for summer living only or even tents.
I have heard people say “well why don’t they move?” where? Where do they go?
The three outreach organizations put a lot of money into the county trying to make people’s lives tolerable with basic needs – heat, electricity, food, shelter, helping them with car repairs to keep them able to get to work, medical, schooling, home repairs – whatever it is that keeps them on their feet and moving forward.
All of these outreach organizations depend on the people in their areas to support them not only with money but SUPPORT. All I am asking is – get behind our people and us and support them. Let me tell you and show you what the organization does, how it works and helps people. Then you make a choice whether to give financial aid or not. People need to hear about the desperation within their communities. I sit on these boards not because I have nothing to do with my time or I am looking for recognition. That is not what people working in these areas are about. Our hearts break for what we see, what we hear.
Sometimes the burden of it does get to be too much, and many people tell me “just say no…do not serve.” I suppose that is good advice, but in most areas, there are not people who will step up to the plate. It takes time, and it takes heart. It is easy to say don’t do it; they do not have the poking of the Holy Spirit that sometimes we wish would just go away.
While there are many caring and giving people, what I am struggling with today are the ones who don’t see and don’t hear. Their eyes and their hearts are turned to missions of other countries and feel mission work doesn’t belong in own communities. I too feel the need for our missionaries to other countries, and I support them and pray for them. But I cannot ignore my own communities.
So today I feel like a NOISY GONG! (1Corinthians 13;1)
A THORN IN THE FLESH ( 2Corinthians 12:7-10)
KICKING AGAINST THE GOADS (Acts 5:9)
Am I only being tolerated, endured, put up with my others? Within me, I can almost hear them saying, “Oh it’s her again.”
Nevertheless, I am confident that I am doing what Christ has put on my heart to do. But how long do I kick against the goads before I realize I am trying to push things that are not wanted. Jesus told his disciples to shake the dust off their feet as they left (Matt. 10:14) In other words – Don’t push it. Quit being a noisy gong, stop being a thorn in their sides. Is that what I am being told today?
Although I have been praying very hard about this now for a couple of weeks, I still do not have a definitive answer. This is the busiest time of year for donating. But I feel the following is how I must approach this season. And perhaps it would be helpful to you.
- Do not quit – NO! NO! NO! NO! You do not quit. You do not let them win.
- Choose where to focus – Choose to focus on those who are giving of their time and money. Draw from their encouragement.
- Be persistent but adaptable – Jesus was not appreciated in his our town, and that happens to us also in our communities and churches. Change strategies where necessary.
- Pray – Above all pray ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit, he is always on your side.
Let’s get those Shoe Boxes packed, those Red Kettles and bells ringing, those Giving Trees up and filled to overflowing. DO IT PROUDLY AND IN JESUS NAME.