Monday, August 10, 2009

Gear Up? or Tear Up?

Yesterday may go down for me as the greatest day I have personally experienced in a church. From 4-7 PM, we had invited the community (through flyers handed out door-to-door and put in the food boxes as WARM) to come to our building for free school supplies, haircuts, clothes, and a number of other services. We did not know what to expect, but had premonitions that we had joined the Father in His activity.

I don't cry easily. But yesterday, I found myself stopping a number of times to dry my eyes. And this morning, I am still crying as I think about it. Because at 1:30 they started coming. By 3:30, they were lined out into our parking lot. By 4:30, there was not ONE empty parking place, and volunteers were parking people 2-deep on the grass.

We were prepared to hand out 400 backpacks of school supplies. We had NO idea what to expect. We were prepared to hand out another 100 "rainchecks." Well, we ended up giving out 272 rainchecks. We had bought 1,000 hotdogs, already having a plan B as to what we would do with the leftovers. Not one hotdog was left. Around 200 haircuts were given, with 6 incredible volunteers working NON-STOP for over three hours. Richard, a local hair stylist, cut 50 himself!

I couldn't tell who were the happiest -- the families being helped or our volunteers who were finding out the truth of how it is more blessed to give than to receive. The volunteers were INCREDIBLE -- around 130 strong. I have never experienced an atmosphere like that! The Spirit of Jesus was definitely evidenced (I'm crying right now as I write this).

I would estimate that over 800 people came to us yesterday (Jacob says he thinks there were 1,000). And while I am glad we were able to help, I cry for our county. We have a lot of wealth in Wise county. But there is SO MUCH poverty. 1/3rd of our county's residence come to WARM for assistance every year -- over 20,000 different individuals.

I am sure I will hear many moving stories about things that happened yesterday. But so far, this one has touched me the most. Donna Moon saw a cute little girl, about 6 or so, eating a hot dog. This was about 6 PM. Donna asked her how she was enjoying the day. She smiled and said it was really good. And then she said that the hotdog was the first food she had all day. That breaks my heart!

I can't wait until next year!

LATE NOTE: We preachers are often accused of "preacher counts" -- over-inflating numbers. But I am being told by many who were here yesterday that they would estimate the number were more like 1,200-1,500!


Kyle R. said...

It was truly an awesome day.

To me, it gives all new meaning to the phrase, "Jesus saw the crowds and he had compassion on them..."

What is the Lord telling us with Gear Up? Where does He want us to go from here? I can't wait to see...

Anonymous said...

I forwarded your post to all my elders. It must have been a wonderful day!

Josh Ross said...

God just keeps blowing us away. I was thrilled to hear about this. AWESOME!

Marcy said...

Yesterday was amazing! I'm with you on "tearing up". It was/is hard not to. To see first hand how many people are in such need, and I didn't hear any complaints about the lines, crowds, heat, or anything from anyone. Not even when we ran out of backpacks.

I loved seeing our church family in action. Talk about one body with many parts. We had parts flying all over the place. The "kitchen staff", Bible teachers, craft leaders, song room workers, clothing room volunteers, the haircutters, puppeteers, and everyone else (over 130 people) came and went straight to work. Being able to utilize our kids as puppeteers was incredible. One of our 4th grade girls was excited because this year she actually got to serve instead of go to a class. Even our youngest kiddos were participating in role plays and handing out drinks.

My eyes have been opened to the needs of our community and the love of our Decatur family.

God's hand was all over this and He is truly amazing!

randy said...

If we're going to pray and invoke God's power in a ministry, we'd best prepare for success.

Jeff said...

It was a great afternoon and one of those experiences where the people who were volunteering probably got more than the people being served.

I've got some ideas I'm going to pass along later for some other ways to do this on a recurring basis.