It was an unusual sight. The woman had leashed her cat and put her kitty in a little bed on wheels, and the woman rolled her cat around as the cat sat contently on a bed. The woman said that her cat was a “service cat”. She trained her cat to bite her fingers when she became afraid. Somehow, the story struck me as odd, but needless to say, I could see this woman loved her cat dearly and that her cat was a companion.
Outcasts, the down trodden, the working poor of America, street people, illegal immigrants, single moms, Russian immigrants, this is who we served on Saturday at an event named “Compassion Vancouver.” Eight churches compiled their efforts by providing over 300 volunteers to serve those in need of medical and dental care, food and resources. Dentists, doctors and nurses volunteered their day to serve those that can’t afford such services and those who don’t have insurance. 27 organizations, both Christian and secular, came and provided resources for people in need. A Christian lawyer set up a table to provide legal advice. Two hairdressers provided haircuts all day. Gideons handed out Bibles in various languages, the Health Department provided information on insurance for children, counselors came to provide services, interpreters helped people communicate their needs, massage therapists set up chairs for free massages, a woman offered free facials and ended up giving facials to 75 people. Parents were offered free childcare while they received their services. Clowns entertained the children, and of course the bounce houses were a huge success. It was an amazing community event that brought eight churches together for one purpose; to provide love to those who need it.
No preaching was done. Medical services were provided without any kind of invitation to convert. However, there was a prayer team who made themselves available for anyone who wanted prayer. At one point, I looked at a woman in tears as another woman held her hands and prayed. The community came together and it was beautiful.
Months ago, I was invited to a meeting to help plan this event organized by Go Connect. In various corners of our city, Go Connect has been helping organize community events to serve those who are need. Somehow, I ended up being the Social Service Leader…I still can’t quite figure out how this happened, I think I got volunteered at one of the meetings I missed. Anyway, I contacted various organizations and invited them to come to provide resources to those in need. So, this last Saturday they gave me a green shirt that said LEADERSHIP, they gave me a walky-talky and sent me out to organize the social service section.
At the end of the day, 1000 people had been served in one way or another. I watched 2 single moms carry off food; two homeless guys carry off some new work boots. I stopped and watched the cat lady get her family photo taken with her cat…and it made me smile.
A year ago, I prayed that God would provide opportunities for me to reach out to those in my community. It’s easy for me to excuse myself for reaching my neighbors since I travel a lot. It’s easy to overlook their needs. So, I prayed that God would allow me to connect to my community in a more significant way and see people as He sees people. God answered that prayer and my heart was blessed.
At the end of Saturday, I had to smile at one man who obviously lives on the streets. He spent the entire day at the event, going from one service to another. After lunch, he wandered the social service area and he stayed there until the day was done. I think he liked us. I think he stuck around because he was no longer an outcast. He was apart of the community. Someone cared enough to talk to him. Someone gave him boots. He was smiled at and accepted. He was now on the inside…nobody wants to be on the outside.
In America, we don’t always have a strong connection with our community. We don’t always know our neighbors or know their needs. Churches don’t necessarily connect to other churches, and often the rich don’t mingle with the poor. I think this leads to loneliness. I think if we had a stronger sense of community, we all would be able to handle a lot more. I mean, I go into the poorest communities in the world, and even though they don’t have resources, they rely on each other. After all, maybe only one guy has a hammer, so he is the guy you go to when you need something hammered. In the poorest communities of the world, people share. In our community…not so much. This is why I loved Saturday, and I would hope and pray more churches get involved and do something like this. To me, this was what God had in mind for the church… to be a light in the world, to love those whom the world might not love…to help those who need to be helped. This is the love of Christ.
For more ideas and information, check out Go Connect.
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
Life, Family, Faith and Travel...the life of a Jones
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