My wife Margi and I have the privilege to lead Mission of Hope a ministry that serves the needy with food and hot meals. MOH is this last month distributed to over 1200 individuals emergency food boxes and served an additional 600 hot meals. (If you would like to know more about MOH check out stoppinghunger.org.) What has struck me is how serving others has brought life to those who serve. It is so easy to be caught up on our cares and needs that it can cause us to lose focus about what is important in life. Jesus teaching his disciples stated that
"who ever would seek to save his own life will lose it but he who loses his live for Him they would find it again". Again and again I have seen folks be come energized in life by serving others. One volunteer wrote,
"It was so fulfilling to help people in need. I myself know what it feels like to need a little assistance in these tough economic times. I met a young woman who came directly from her job to the food bank because she had been laid off from her full time job and now only works part time at a job where she is not able to work at her full potential with no benefits and less pay. Her husband is also laid off and they have two children to support. I held her hand and told her that I also was out of work and I understood how difficult it was. I told her how good it felt to just be volunteering and how reaching out to others is really helping me to be lifted up as well. She began to cry and sincerely thanked me for what we were doing at Mission of Hope. I told her to thank God because He is the ultimate provider and even when times seem unbearable He is always there to give us the help we need. I told her not to feel ashamed for asking for help. It is important in these times to understand that people need each other for help, understanding and support. Mission of Hope is more than just a food bank it is God's people coming together to serve and love people in need without a judgmental attitude but a heart to serve and show God's love. I am so thankful to be a part of a work so meaningful and special."
What is so remarkable about this, is this volunteer had been out of work and was feeling somewhat defeated, yet as she served her confidence grew and now has found a very good job. She now has a new perspective on life and it is evident to everyone. I believed we are wired by God to serve others. The great command to love God is reflected in loving others as well. There is a strong sense of significance that comes from opening our heart to others. Another volunteer wrote,
Just thought you should know - today while I was at the church office a lady called in. She wondered when the next MOH distribution was in Silverton. She went on to say she'd just gotten home from the distribution today, was going through the food she received, and couldn't believe how much there was! She shared that her social security income was being reduced, and she's been unsure how to make ends meet. She was extremely grateful for the help that MoH provided, and said it was so great to see so many smiling, happy people willing to serve. She ended with the statement, "and I'm going to have to check out your church, it must be a fun place to be!" Sounds like we're really blessing some people here in Silverton!"
I love the excitement reflected in the note. There is a sense of mission and purpose that is reflected in the last line. We are meant to live life on the edge of our seats, spending our lives to the expand the kingdom of God. Yet it is so easy to be caught up with the cares of this world and to let the joy that comes from serving others get choked out of our lives. I would encorage anyone that is caught in a rut to jump in to serving in some way. Get involved with a food bank, an after school program, or some other service organization. Maybe your church has become in-turned, get a group to serve at a local mission, do something! It will energize your life. Have a Happy New year.