Perhaps you’ve been following this series of posts and think the idea of reaching out to people without expecting anything in return sounds like something Jesus Christ would do. In that case, you think you might want to run a similar initiative at your church.
To that end, here is the list of “projects” our very small church (40ish members) undertook during the two weeks set aside for the Love Works Initiative.
In the town of St. Helens, there are roughly 160 men and women whose job it is to teach young people. Having worked for the school district, I realize they don’t get many props from their employer. Many haven’t had a pay raise in three years, but have seen the cost of benefits rise.
In the same way that parents receive phone calls from school only if there’s bad news to report, teachers are contacted by parents only when they aren’t happy. It can be thankless work on many fronts.
When was the last time a seventh grader walked up to their math (science, history, language arts) teacher and said, “Thanks for teaching me today. And thanks for giving me homework tonight so I can really learn this stuff”?
As a small token of our appreciation for their tireless efforts, we dropped off cookies to the staff rooms of every school in town. Included was our little “Love Works” card. That’s it. No fanfare just kindness.
Those people down the street from you who never seem to mow their lawn or pull weeds annoy you, don’t they? Their carelessness makes your neighborhood appear shoddy.
Why are they so lazy?
Maybe they have cancer treatments and no energy left for yard upkeep. Perhaps they are older and the work is too much for them. Maybe they don’t think the yard is as important as spending time with family.
The reasons they don’t keep their yard to your standard are too numerous to contemplate.
Rather than judge these folks, we showed up at their house with lawn mowers, weed eaters and young people ready to pull weeds. Donations were not accepted. We did leave our calling card, though.
Loving the Community
Doesn’t the trash along the street or stuck in the curb at the grocery store parking lot shriek at you? “No one cares about this place!”
That’s what many people hear when they see trash on the ground. How many of them bend over and take the offensive item to the nearest trash receptacle?
We loaded a truck and trailer up with empty trash bags and descended on a variety of places one Saturday morning. School parking lots? Check. Alongside Main Street? Check.
Then we took the trash to the dump and enjoyed some food and fellowship together. Yes, we had our Love Works calling cards on hand for people who asked what we were doing, but mostly we wore smiles and worked hard.
Loving First Responders
Some people go to work and sit behind a desk. Others show up at a store and work with customers all day. Most people don’t have to consider their personal safety during their scheduled shift.
For police officers and firefighters, things are different. At any moment, they could be called to a life-threatening situation. Facing an armed robber or squelching a fully-engulfed building fire might be their next task.
To thank them, we went right for the stomach. Southern Style Barbecue? You got it. We served them a home-cooked spread to die for. Chicken or slow-roasted pulled pork, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans and cookies or cupcakes to top it off with the right amount of sweetness.
In the end, the people who were affected the most by this initiative? The members of First Missionary Baptist Church who reached out their hands to those around them. Whether they invested money, food, transportation, prayer, time or physical labor, those who believed God’s Love is best demonstrated through actions grew stronger.
How can you love God and not draw closer to him? How can you love others and not act kindly toward them?
You can’t show your love through works without being changed.