The Impact of One

“…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.

Shalom

KA

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Chains of Judgment

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

Picture this: you’re sitting in a coffee shop reading and just relaxing. A woman walks in and her hair is a beautiful shade of brown and it is in a lovely style. Her makeup compliments her skin and eye color perfectly. Her clothes are impeccable and the style is what you love. She holds her head up high as she walks in to place an order for some drink that has a list of ingredients a mile long and feels to you like the quintessential hipster drink. Can you picture it? Can you feel it in your gut?

Now picture yourself walking in the door. You’re wearing jeans that are a little too big and baggy but they’re comfortable so you love them. Your hair is grey and curly and likely has a curl that looks like it’s trying to escape your head. And to add to the style, you’ve pushed your glasses up on your head so there are about 20 strands caught up in the nose guard, sticking straight up like a lightening rod. Your top is a basic light blue and if you’re lucky, you haven’t spilled anything on it yet. On your feet are your signature hot pink walking shoes. When you walk in to order, you’re looking down at the ground because that’s your typical stance. Can you picture it? Can you feel it in your gut?

The second person in this story is me, it’s what I look like pretty much every single day. I’m overweight, middle-aged, with a comfortable style and when I look at the woman who walked in ahead of me looking amazing, I judge myself and determine that her life is better than mine and that she must have it all figured out because she LOOKS like she has it all figured out. I wish and dream that I could walk in and command attention like she does because I immediately place a value on her that is higher than myself. I also judge her. I determine that she is so far ahead of me that I have nothing to offer her. I don’t really look at her, study her, pray for her because I assume she doesn’t need it. I judge that her life is awesome and yet, I have no idea.

See, I’m a firm believer that judgment has many different faces and all of them are damaging. If I judge that your life is great, I won’t see your pain. If I judge that your life stinks, I won’t see your joy. If I judge that my life is less than, I won’t offer myself. If I judge that I have it more together than you, I won’t love you. Judgment is deadly no matter what facet you are experiencing. Judgment kills our joy, destroys our peace and renders us utterly alone.

Stop judging. Stop comparing. Stop assuming. My outward appearance has nothing to do with the inward condition of my heart. My weight, my hair color, my makeup…none of that makes me a good or bad person. Judgment of myself and of you only chains me to comparison and envy and both of those emotions are deadly. Judgment keeps me from entering in to your story and it keeps me from allowing you to enter in to mine and both of these states create loneliness and hopelessness.

Rewrite the language in your head and heart. The next time you find yourself making a judgment about somebody or yourself, stop and think about why. Am I judging this person because they appear strong in an area where I feel week and therefore I’m envious? Am I judging this person because their style doesn’t match mine? Am I feeling frumpy because I’m comparing myself to the woman next to me? When you have an answer to these questions, be thankful for the insight and ask God to show you how to change your language. We need to be in community with each other everywhere we go and judgment is like a large fence between us.

Unchain yourself from envy and comparison and find freedom in a non-judgmental life. Non-judgmental toward others and yourself. God created you in a fearful and wonderful way and guess what, He created me the same way. It’s time to stand up for the beauty that is within each of us. I need to know that I can be authentic without judgment and you need the same. The next generation needs our example of loving all and judging none.

Live unchained in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy. You are beautiful!

If you would like a prayer partner, email me at jesusreliant@gmail.com.

KA