“…He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him.” – Mark 2:14
One year ago, Jesus asked me to follow Him. No vision, no particular ministry, just a call to follow the One who had saved me. So, I did what any normal human would do…I panicked and then I got up and followed Him.
At that time, I was in a cushy job with a cushy pay check and cushy benefits. I had spent 20 plus years in the same field, 13 years at the same company and 8 years in the same position. The kind of work I did was required by the government so unless I just did a poor job, I had job security unlike most people. Who in the world would leave? Only someone crazy enough to trust a carpenter from Galilee. Me!
As my time to enter this new world approached, I found that my heart was starting to really fall in love with homeless people. I had always given them money when they stood on the street corners or bought them food, but now I was starting to think about how to really help them as a people-group and not just a one-off situation. The time of year was fall so I decided to ask people for blankets. I figured that I would gather 25 or so and take them to the Union Gospel Mission to hand out. That was not God’s plan. In a matter of 6 weeks, I had collected money and blankets that combined, gave me over 250 blankets. YIKES! I was thrilled and faced with an awesome problem…where do I take them?
Not far from where I live is a homeless tent encampment and they received 100 blankets. With the remainder, I kept them in my car and handed them out whenever I saw a need. I volunteered at a food bank in Seattle so I had plenty of opportunity to hand them out. I also gave to other outreach programs who had their own folks they were helping. Why not spread the wealth?
This taste of direct contact with this amazing group of people captured my heart completely. I saw Jesus in each face and I fell more and more in love. By the time February rolled around, 2 months after leaving my job, I was submitting the paperwork to start a non-profit organization, A Giving Community. I had no idea what God was up to and I wanted to be part of it. I started hearing about local organizations that were in the trenches, rescuing women from sex trafficking, rescuing women and children from domestic violence and providing a place of love and care for foster children. These folks were doing critical work and they needed support. The vision was growing, we were expanding from only helping the homeless to helping organizations.
Fast forward 10 months and here’s where we are now:
- Tuna Spread: a quarterly event where we take hundreds of cans of tuna fish and other items into downtown Seattle and just start walking around handing them out to the homeless people we see. As I write this, we’ve handed out 1,200 cans of tuna this year and in a couple of days will be taking another 700 cans plus coats, sweatshirts, pants, and bathroom items.
- Frontline Support: we’ve provided outreach items to an organization that helps women leave sex trafficking (www.iwantrest.com). We’ve provided toys, cloths and food to an organization that supports foster children (www.handinhandkids.org). And we’ve clothed and fed a homeless tent encampment.
- Resource: we’ve provided opportunities for people to volunteer their time at several different organizations and get involved.
All of this is to say, there is impact made for the kingdom in just one person saying “Yes” to God’s invitation to follow Him. My “yes” has fed and clothed hundreds of people this year, provided joy through Christmas gifts for children and allowed an opportunity for women caught in sex trafficking to feel loved. Don’t ever think you can’t make an impact because you can. I am proof of that! Am I going to single-handedly wipe out poverty, abuse and homelessness? Absolutely not. What I am going to do is show as many people as I can that they are loved and cared for in the only way I know how, meeting their immediate need even for just one day.
If God is inviting you to say yes, please do it. It might be the difference between someone having a blanket and food or going hungry and cold. There is no act of kindness too small.
If you need a prayer partner, please email me at jesusreliant.com. If you want to support A Giving Community, email me at jesusrelient.com and I’ll give you the details on how you can make a tax-deductible financial donation.