So, I am busy. Really busy.
The past two weekends have been spent out-of-town, both with days of preparation before leaving. When I got home this week I have spent every day preparing for the Easter Egg Hunt and schoolwork has been scattered in between.
As you can see, I don’t even know what day it is!
I apologized to Jean on Thursday, when I realized Tuesday had come and gone without a trace of her testimony being shared on the blog. How does this happen? That I miss a whole day in a week?
Maybe I need some underwear like Asher has to keep me on track.
Anywho, on with the post.
We met Jean about two years ago when, by no other explanation, God led our footsteps right to the door of The Good Shepherd Clinic. She still claims we were an answered prayer, as she had been praying for more help, and God produced her request. Me and Grant were searching for ways to serve the neglected population in our area and this was perfect for us. The Good Shepherd Clinic provides free medical care on Thursday nights to the uninsured population. These patients are triaged by a nurse, seen by a physician, educated on their condition (there is even a diabetes clinic), and their meds are filled in the pharmacy there. A Dental clinic is offered every few weeks as well. This clinic is such a blessing to those it serves–and those who serve. Patients line up hours before the doors open in order to see the doctor.
I was allowed to triage patients and Grant served by working in the waiting room. We would come home together and have so many stories to share with one another about how God blessed us that night.
Jean has a heart for what she does. She loves the people at the clinic and her compassion shows in her voice and her tender touch. She is so very wise in running the clinic and her knowledge about how to access the resources for her patients is impressive. I asked her to share a testimony with us because I know she has seen God work in her experiences. She strives to serve Him in every task and I am thankful He put her in our lives as an example of a Servant! Enjoy her story today that she shares from her experiences with the Appalachian Outreach Team, you will be blessed as I was!
How do we live to please God when we are misunderstood at every turn? Let us look at Romans 15:1-7.
Rom. 15:1 – We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves.
Rom. 15:2 – We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.
Rom. 15:3 – For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”
Rom. 15:4 – Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
Rom. 15:5 – May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.
Rom. 15:6 – Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom. 15:7 – Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
Being a first-born child, I was the center of my parents’ attention, and they were very protective. As a result, I was extremely shy and timid, and so much so that it became a stumbling block. I struggled in school, even with family. Both of my grandmothers taught me through scripture to trust God, and explained that I could overcome my timidity through prayer and a close relationship with the Lord. I was sitting with my paternal grandmother on her front porch located on Center Street in Goldsboro, NC, when she prayed a bold prayer with me to loosen my tongue, and to make my words the words of Christ. As she went inside to make us a fresh glass of lemonade on that hot July day, I saw another child crying on the front steps of her grandmother’s house next door. Her name was Allison, and she had tried to befriend me earlier in the week, but I was too timid and shy. My heart was filled with compassion for Allison, and I could hear my grandmother’s prayer still lingering upon my ears. Mama Fail prayed that I would put aside my selfish fears, and see others through the eyes of Christ. It worked! I saw someone broken-hearted, so I went to her and put my arm around her to comfort her. She was so grateful, and had every reason to be so sad. Her mom had dropped her at her grandmother’s house, and had driven off with another man to make a new life for herself. Allison was waiting for her father to come and pick her up and take her home – a motherless home. I felt the Holy Spirit move strongly within me that day, and I committed my life to being a blessing to the broken-hearted and misunderstood.
I could write a book of all the experiences I’ve had since that day, but I ask only that you allow me to give witness to one event in my life that comes to mind quite often.
Whenever God calls you, He empowers you, and, that can cause people to be inspired, it may lead people to admire you, and it certainly causes Satan to burn with anger. God’s power can be seen in your weakness, and Satan then uses what was meant to bring glory to God to become a stumbling block for others, as they become jealous, and like Satan, begin to burn with anger. It is a thin line in the sand – God empowers you for His glory, but Satan colors you and your reputation in the hearts and minds of others (usually in the Christian family), and divisiveness is planted! Satan truly wants to divide us from God and from seeing one another through God’s perspective, and Satan rejoices. If we aren’t careful, we become defensive and prideful – then we have sinned, rather than bringing glory to God.
My husband and I served for five years with Appalachian Outreach in ministry through our church, and what a growing experience. The need stretched and grew all of us who participated in this ministry. One summer, we had a team that was rather large, and the needs were great. Our men built a huge storage building for the ministry; some of our women decorated and dressed out the Samaritan House; while the remainder of the team conducted Back Yard Bible Studies in the “projects.” While yet another of our group repaired donated computers to the ministry. Oh, the stories we could tell! Then, every evening after dinner, we provided child care so parents could attend parenting and marriage classes. Really long days, but energized by the Holy Spirit! However, Satan is forever lurking! He entered the heart of one of our members, and began to buzz.
Here’s what happened. The community pantry was forever bare. So every day, we collected from our pockets a donation, and our associate pastor combined all the donations, and came up with an interesting “challenge.” Each team was given $90.00, to spend along with a list of items that would provide for a family of four for two weeks! Yep, a daunting task which required good management skills and techniques! Our pastor, interestingly, dropped us off at the local Wal-Mart (of which none of us were familiar – but one Wal-Mart is much like the other), given the $90.00, and the list, and allowed 45 minutes to make our purchases. We could not go over, and we could not come under. We were allowed to make up the difference by a mere $3.00, one way or the other.
This day came on the last day of the week’s trip, and the jealousy buzz was at its subtle fervor. Every team was made up of those who were close friends, family or a clique. My team was dear to me, and I considered them all friends. My husband was required by our pastor to accompany him to get gas for the vans, leaving me with no family member with which to work on my team. We were the least cohesive of the teams. I’m seeing this as a lesson of humbleness, but God had other plans. So, on your mark, get set and go! It was frantic. Other shoppers saw the fury of strangers trying to out-do one another. Chatter traveled throughout Wal-Mart, and soon there were crowds cheering all of us on. And, now it is going out over the public address system! I am NOT a competitive person, but I was the team leader! Ugh! Now, I’m the bull’s eye for those wanting to shoot darts! For at least one individual in our mission team, I was too much for them. And, my team – all shy and timid – were looking at me like deer in headlights for leadership. And, man, how they came together!
To make a long story a bit shorter, God helped me discern our strengths and weaknesses. One lady was older and unable to walk – we’re in Wal-Mart! Another lady had a small child – we’re in Wal-Mart! No other team had a child! That left me, and the only man on the team. God is so WISE! I “suggested” that we park our buggy (shopping cart) half-way down the food side of Wal-Mart, and leave the older lady there to tally the prices. None of the items were stamped with a price, they appeared only on the aisle, which meant this dear, sweet lady could not see the prices, and she was to handle the addition and keep a running total. My older lady (let’s call her “Bea”) with pad and pencil added as quickly as possible, so as to keep us within our $90.00 range, AND, we had to get every item on the list. She never looked at an item, nor handled it. As the item was dropped into the cart, the “runner” screamed the price – for Bea was hard of hearing, besides from being unable to walk well. We, then, divided the rows down the middle, and the mom (let’s call her “Dee”), took the cleaning and dry good aisles, while the man (let’s call him “Matt”) took the canned, bottled and perishable food items. I called out the next items on the list to Dee and Matt (the “runners”)as they dropped off their most recently collected items. The child (we will call her “Sweetheart”) arranged all items in the cart while Bea busily jotted down figures like crazy. Sweetheart had a good memory, and made certain that every price was heard by Bea and recorded. This is a child who rarely spoke, but she really got into this “challenge.” Once the list was complete, Bea and Matt re-checked the columns of figures, while I watched the clock. Matt announced we still had $23.00 to spend, while Dee, Sweetheart and I re-checked the list to make certain we had gotten EVERYTHING on the list.
Sidebar: Matt witnessed all week as mothers came to Samaritan House and to the food pantry with infants, babies, and small children in tow – and – saw how there was not enough baby food, meaning some mothers had to leave with no food for their small ones. Without pause, Matt said he would get baby food (somehow not an item on the list), and he got it by the cases! Remember, we could not exceed $23.00, in baby food!
We headed to the check-out, almost unable to handle the food cart, and waiting on Matt to return with all that baby food! We had a mere 6 minutes left – all the other teams were waiting on us to finish. A man in front of us was in a hover-round and handed us $5.00, to apply to the food pantry. We could not use it along with our $90.00, everyone was looking, and we would not cheat. So, we thanked him, and gave it to our pastor as a donation from another source – not from our mission team members. Matt made it back on time, and the cashier announced after every item was rung up, that we were within $1.97, of reaching our $90.00, goal. A couple, with piercings and tattoos all over them, who were in line behind us (purchasing cigarettes, beer and sunflower seeds) tossed us their sunflower seeds, and said that would help. We added the sunflower seeds (also not on the list – but allowed so long as we had purchased every item on the prepared list), and WOW! Our purchases came to EXACTLY $90.00, on the nose! Everyone on our team, and the shoppers in front and behind us, all were considered the least of these……the handicapped gentleman who lived on the streets with his hover-round, and was himself shopping with food stamps; and the pierced and tattooed couple. The young couple remarked that they did not feel welcomed in any church, but felt they had just witnessed what they thought was a genuine act of Christian love. They were so happy to be a part of what Christ was doing. The Holy Spirit certainly filled that shopping aisle – and the cashier was just beaming – glad she was the cashier for the “winning” team! ☺
Remember – not the popular, but the timid and shy – handicapped – shunned and outcast – oldest amongst the group – most misunderstood – youngest amongst the group – the shortest (like Zacchaeus) – and socially challenged, were instruments of His Glory, and His Strength was magnified in our weakness. Everyone was blessed that day – and the murmurs ceased! God was the victor…..Satan had been defeated.
Praise God! I am humbled every day by where God takes me, and how He empowers me to do His Will. Do not fear what others think of you, but think more highly of others, and watch how God will bless others as He grows you in His image.
Every day is filled with opportunities to live not just out of a desperate need for God, but out of a genuine desire to please Him. We cannot demand His grace, nor do we deserve His grace, but it is His greatest joy to grace our lives with His Holy Spirit, so others will be blessed.