Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Leap. — The kind that takes that little thing called Faith.

on December 24, 2012

There is a little church. In a little town. That lives in an old furniture building.

But this little church in this little town is doing big things.

This little church in this little town in an old furniture building is busy…. meeting need.

I heard someone say today that this little church doesn’t care about stained glass or stains on the carpet. They care about the community. The people. The need. They are focused on doing the work of Loving God and Loving People.

It is so true.

A few weeks ago, on the day I went gleaning with my family, just before Thanksgiving, I answered a call to help this little church. To help meet need in our community.

A call to help lead a project for the food pantry that lives in the little church. An Angel Tree to support the children of the families who attend the food pantry each week in this little church.

I had no idea what I was doing. I just felt the need to help. Like it was my turn to give back. My turn to be thankful for good news and many blessings. My turn to pay it forward. Truth be known. I’ve done some praying this year. I’ve done some soul searching this year. I’ve even done my share of bargaining. It felt like it was my time. My time to do something for this little church.

At the same time, since it was coming on Christmas, my X and Y were starting to get some bad cases of the “IWants” and this felt like a good way to model thankfulness, graciousness and generosity. Things that we value and want them to know and live. This would be a perfect way to do all of these things.

I said. “YES. I will help.”

I can organize this. There will be others to help, right?! Ok. Should probably be about 60 kids or so? Sure. So I drafted some forms. Emailed them out.

But then, on the first night out of three, we collected over 60 names of children who needed our help to make this Christmas, a merry one.

Oh dear. And that is the moment that I started to get nervous. We still had two more nights to collect names. How big can this get? How is this going to work? Will we be able to get enough people to ‘adopt’ children and purchase presents? How will we get these gifts to the children?

I kept telling myself. Don’t panic. Don’t fret. It will all work out.

Don’t panic. Don’t fret. It will all work out. (and repeat.)

But. There was a part of me that was a little concerned, a little worried, that this could all blow up. Somebody’s going to get their feelings hurt. Kids wouldn’t get adopted. Presents wouldn’t get returned on time. What presents we did have, we would spend hours and hours driving all over kingdom come to deliver presents. The list goes on.

On the second night out of three, the number of ‘angels’ on the tree jumped to 100+.

Don’t panic. Don’t fret. It will all work out.

By the third night, the number was close to 140.

Don’t panic. Don’t fret. It will all work out.

Again,  I said, “Ok. Yes. We can do this. Yes.” And when I stopped and looked at the stack of handwritten papers, describing interests and clothing sizes and most wanted presents, I realized that I wasn’t panicked. I wasn’t spending countless hours fretting. I really thought this will certainly all work out. I just wasn’t sure how.

We made paper angels for the tree. That makes them seem fancy…They were just tags, with the child’s information. Yes, Handwritten. Every. Single. One. Next year, we will be more sophisticated with Excel spreadsheets and merge forms or something. Better. Different.

By the beginning of December, there were about 140 angel tags attached to a large Christmas tree in the celebration room. I made a plea to the people of this little church. I didn’t intend it to be, but it turned out to be a tearful one. I encouraged folks to be intentional. Do good. Be intentional to give and do good. I talked about my family and our summer and our intentional efforts to spend time together and do good for others. I challenged everyone to do the same. I invited them to take tags, shop for children, wrap the presents, attach the tag and return the present in two weeks.

One hour later, by the end of the service in this little church that is focused on meeting the needs in this little town, the tags were almost all gone. Only about 15 remained. Ah. May. Zing. That many people, in this little church, were motivated to take care of other people’s children. And before I could begin to worry about what we would do with those 15 left on the tree, a volunteer took them to a local business where they were all adopted.

“Shew!”, I thought. I can breathe easy now. Together, a few of us even figured out a brilliant distribution venue and it was rolling. People will come to the community dinner, have a meal, pick up presents and food pantry goodness.

But this little church is different.  Here is where this little church kicks it up a notch. This little church, that lives in an old furniture store, has people in it, who weren’t satisfied with this. They were open to and wanted to help more. I swear every time I turned around, someone was handing me more forms, or names of children or lists of wants and needs.

I have to admit. In my head, I was screaming. STOP! No more. We can’t support anymore. Seriously, people. This is the most we can do. Maybe next year. Enough!

Two weeks later, it was time for the presents to be returned to the church. I couldn’t believe the amount of presents that were there. For a while, I had a sense of calm. This is going to work out. This is going to be ok and kiddos in this area are going to take these presents home and have a Merry Christmas.

And, no time to celebrate success, because the people in this little church kept collecting names of people in need. Stop! Enough! We can’t help everyone this year!

Finally, it was time for the community dinner. We set up that brilliant warehouse distribution system. People check in at the front desk. If they have a child or children on the angel tree, they get a number on a green card. They walk to the back and hand the number to me. Someone puts a checkmark by their name. I have helpers that went and found the gift by the number and handed off to the parent. We even had folks willing to help carry items out to the car… With a Merry Christmas! and … off they went.

That’s when I started to receive the gift that comes with service (and my own semi-faith) like this. I saw it. I felt it. The graciousness. The thankfulness. The generosity. The overwhelming “This is all for my child?!” feeling.

Then there is my X and Y, who watched and helped. They carried presents. They organized cards. They help check people in. Y was a little frustrated at first that she didn’t get turkey at the community dinner, not because they ran out, but because we just missed it we were so busy. But she soon understood that maybe the people that DID get dinner, maybe DID NOT have a house with a full pantry, a full freezer and a full refrigerator.  She got it.  YES.

More yes. While the presents were going out the door, names and needs were still coming in.  Every time a need arose, there was a miraculous random offer of help, almost immediately. The total number of children whose Christmas Tree base will be just a little bit more full, rose to at least 170 as of this morning.

Even today, on Christmas Eve Eve, I spent 2 hours shopping for 5 kiddos, after several parents called this morning stating their needs.

I was no longer saying, “Stop. Enough. We can’t help anymore.”

I was saying…Yes. This little church, in this little town is doing big things. And the people in this little church have amazingly big hearts and enough faith to share with me and many, many others who…need.

I want to be a part of that. I want that kind of faith.

Merry Christmas Everyone.  I challenge you to say “Yes”…just a little more. See what happens. 

giving tree


12 responses to “Leap. — The kind that takes that little thing called Faith.

  1. Discover. When God calls..and you say “yes” – amazing things happen! Blessings!

  2. […] Leap. – The kind that takes that little thing called Faith. ( […]

  3. […] morning at my little church in a little town that is doing big things, the guest minister from the Wesley Foundation shared a story about taking communion. In his story, […]

  4. […] wasn’t really until I started attending this little church in this little town doing big things that I really began to learn about Lent. And by learn, I mean learn as I go. A little at a time. […]

  5. […] Leap. – The kind that takes that little thing called Faith. ( […]

  6. teetwoh says:

    responsiveness is in so many ways, such an essential thing for all levels of relationships – not least that between God and us.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. […] I love my little church in a little town doing big things. […]

  8. […] if you are looking right now for the something you can do…let me again tell you about that little church in the little town doing big things. They are sponsoring a Backpack Blast. Taking action. Practicing what LOVE DOES by filling hundreds […]

  9. […] minister of the little church in the little town doing big things has recently asked this […]

  10. […] morning, the awesome preacher in the little church in the little town doing big things shared a story of Samuel.  Specifically, I Samuel 7:12 “Samuel then took a large stone and […]

  11. […] year, I wrote about a leap of faith that I became involved with at our little church, called our Giving Tree Angel Tree. To this day, I […]

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