When churches pass the plate, typically you don’t take out the money. But in late November, Seacoast asked you to do just that. They held a reverse offering where you took an envelope (per family) that held $3 to $10. Why?
Pastor Josh Surratt encouraged everyone to spend it on people in the community and around the world—to reach people that the church might not be able to directly. God, of course, can do any miracle at any time—he created the world after all, but the Bible is filled with stories of how God uses us to reach people who are hurting. Pastor Darrin Patrick summed it up in a recent sermon with a quote from pastor and author, Tim Keller:
“There are some needs only you can see.
There are some hands only you can hold.
There are some people only you can reach.”
And you’ve answered that call—and continue to bless others during this Christmas season.
Taking it Personally
So many of you have gone out specifically in search of people who are hurting in some way. You’ve made sandwiches and bought hot meals, clothes, and blankets for the homeless—and just as important—you’ve spent time talking with them, showing them they’re worth noticing. And you’ve taken your kids with you!
We’ve heard so many stories of your kids helping decide where to give—to orphanages and animal shelters, to programs that provide goats and chickens as a source of livelihood to families in India. You’ve held yard sales, made jewelry, and other goods in order to raise money. You’ve even offered salsa dance classes in support of anti-human trafficking programs. You’re teaching your kids to practice generosity so that it becomes second-nature. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (ESV).
You’ve supported out-of-town families with places to stay while their children are in the hospital, and sponsored local families who have no budget to buy gifts for their kids. And even closer to home, you’ve quintupled your reverse offering to help friends and neighbors through times when job losses and health troubles are bringing them low.
This time of year, like it says in The Christmas Carol, is often when want is most keenly felt, and abundance rejoices. It is an incredible blessing to be able to give to others, to think of how we can make each other’s lives better and happier…to realize that we don’t have to go through difficult things alone.
You’ve thought of the lonely…
“My mom and I wrote notes in 25 cards for the troops overseas and 20 for the nursing home. …I think I’ll makes this a new Christmas tradition.” ~ Laurel Bazen
Many of you have held online fundraisers and pooled your money to make bigger purchases for the homeless or for single moms. Here is just one of many stories…
When Diana and Rick Kirkpatrick’s small group learned a young, single mother was coming home from the hospital to a completely empty apartment, with nothing for her baby, they decided to pool their resources and leverage social media to ask people to help furnish the apartment. A whole team came together and provided a glider chair, baby crib and clothes, changing table, food, toiletries, and cleaning products. But there was still a significant need…
The young mother had worked up until a week before she had the baby, but a C-section delivery had extended her recovery time to the end of December. She was going to have trouble paying her rent for the month. The small group considered taking care of it for her.
God Answers Prayer
Diana and Rick prayed that night for God to reveal what to do. During Diana’s morning quiet time, she began reading 1 Timothy 5 and 6. “I had read up to chapter 6, verse 16,” Diana said, “when Rick came in and asked if I’d had any ‘revelation.’ I told him I hadn’t. Then I resumed my reading. The very next verse gave me chills and filled my eyes with tears. Verses 6:17-19, said, ‘give to the needy, and do it with a glad, happy heart to store up treasures in heaven!’ How much clearer did God have to get? When I told Rick, he said, ‘Looks like we’re paying December’s rent!’”
Sometimes, like in this case, God makes it very clear when we need to step in for someone at a crux time in their lives.
“The very next verse gave me chills and filled my eyes with tears. Verses 6:17-19, said, ‘give to the needy, and do it with a glad, happy heart to store up treasures in heaven!”
Just the First Step
Since that time, the young mother has been recovering well and is taking the necessary steps toward being self-sufficient in her living situation. She has made sure to fill out applications for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program that provides health education, nutritious foods, breastfeeding support, and other services free of charge to South Carolina families who qualify. She has also applied for living accommodation vouchers.
The small group is continuing to walk alongside this young mom. One of the couples is mentoring and guiding her through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, and helping her develop a written budget.
These blessings of generosity are spreading. Even out-of-town visitors who just happened to attend Seacoast when the reverse offering occurred, have taken up the challenge in their own communities—far beyond Seacoast. And they’re telling others. This is a good kind of epidemic.
If you’ve caught the generosity bug and want to do more, here are a few more ideas:
- Purchase non-perishable items to donate to your local food pantry.
- Combine the reverse offerings with some friends and pay a bill for a single mom in need.
- Ask friends or your place of work to match your reverse offering and donate it to a local women’s shelter.
- Bless someone you interact with regularly (postal worker, cashier, server, teacher) with a gift card.
- Purchase a blanket or coat and donate it to a homeless shelter.
- Provide Christmas gifts for local children.