Today I have been challenged…and I hope this challenges you too.
We’ve been challenged to love.
love is pure.
love is true.
The greatest form of love for God comes through how we love and serve humanity.
It is a calling to participate in practical holiness…
It is this kind of love that should be a fragrant offering.
This kind of love is (not always an immediate response, mind you)a response to being unlovable, hopelessly lost in our own sins, and yet receiving this unmerited grace, this undeserved love. We respond in the practical. We respond to this love in how we love others. We attempt to reciprocate this love to God, and we are consumed by this desire to serve a mighty God here where He has placed us.
God has placed a very special man in our corps building recently…
His name is Bill.
He came to us first to volunteer, and we kept him.
He has this sort of passionate fire in his heart to serve people around him.
Strangers will come to our corps for help with food and find a friend where they might least expect it.
They find Bill.
He usually wears a red Salvation Army Emergency Disaster cap on his head and with a big smile he begins to engage the down and out in our foodshelf…but this isn’t the end of the story…
Recently, our foodshelf coordinator Linda was contacted by a non-profit organization that helps special needs adults find places to work, contribute and volunteer. They were looking for locations that they could send about two or three special needs young adults to work. Linda recognized an opportunity and agreed to be a host site here at The Salvation Army’s foodshelf. Most of these special needs adults are slightly withdrawn and they can take quite a while to warm up to new environments. Change is extremely difficult for most of them. One such young adult was Anthony. Anthony is naturally shy, and because of his disability, he doesn’t welcome change easily. He is uncomfortable with meeting new people and his anxiety sometimes is too much to bear.
Anthony’s first day at The Salvation Army just so happened to be Bill’s regular volunteer day in the foodshelf. Imagine this shy, quiet adult meeting this big gregarious red capped man…you’d think Anthony would have run away…but he didn’t. Within that first day of volunteering in our foodshelf, Anthony became Bill’s good friend. Bill took him under his wing, showed him how to pack food boxes, how to clean the floors, how to meet and greet clients coming to us for help. Bill became Anthony’s mentor as they worked side by side each week filling boxes with food, sharing much needed breaks, taking out the trash, laughing together in the hallways, and engaging families and individuals in need who came to the door for food.
Bill is a servant of Christ, and to see him and Anthony together meeting human need in a very practical way here in the foodshelf is heart warming!
When Anthony comes in now to volunteer, he always looks for Bill.
He wants to work right there beside Bill, to emulate him.
Anthony feels comfortable there. He feels safe. He feels accepted.
Perhaps we need more Bills in our corps.
People who aren’t afraid to engage.
People who have this passion to serve Christ in any aspect both big and small.
People who make a difference in lives without even having to preach a sermon because their lives are that sermon.
We do make a difference in people’s lives, dear Salvation Army.
I hope that we never ever forget this.
We sing these wonderful battle songs of “fill the world with glory”, and these are great, but sometimes I think we lose the tree for the forest around us. We lose the little things that make differences in people right in front of us. We are so busy looking “out there” when all along we can make a difference, we can make an impact right here. It is a practical holiness that transforms lives. It is a practical holiness that preaches sermons that touches lives without even having to stand in a pulpit. We need more practical holiness in our corps. We need more people willing to do both the big tasks as well as the small mundane duties…both matter!
To Anthony, Bill became the representation of Christ in his life.
Bill became the very reflection of Christ that Anthony needed.
There are many more stories just like this waiting to be told in your corps.
There are many more lives that can be impacted for the better because of what you do next.
We do make a difference…and it starts with the execution of practical holiness in our lives.
Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
To God be the glory!