#1: Community > Charity:
I believe there is a part inside most of us that truly wants to help others. We are all gifted and blessed in different ways. That gives every one of us unique gifts and blessings to pass forward. Use your gifts to help others. You can never go wrong by blessing others. When what you have available to give is your money or material things, GIVE. You will bless someone.
However, if this is where the giving stops, only charity is achieved. In charity, the cycle of blessing is left incomplete. It’s not like something bad happens or no blessing occurs. It simply means that maximum impact is not achieved. God could take that exact same blessing or gift and do so much more with it if we would just give Him the opportunity.
In our mission, we like to say that we operate on God’s economy. In God’s economy, there is always more than enough blessing to go around. So much so that when a gift is given, EVERYONE walks away feeling changed by it: the giver, the receiver, and even bystanders or observers. For the cycle of blessing to come full circle, you have to be willing to break down some barriers and dig a little deeper. If you want the cycle of blessing to have maximum impact, it is necessary that you also give of your time and your emotions…..give of yourself.
This is hard for us because it requires us to be vulnerable. It requires us to be willing & able to look another person in the eyes and say “I am broken too.” We all have struggles, pains, insecurities, problems: those hidden secret things that we tuck away deeply, desperately hoping that nobody will notice. If we participate in charity, the receiver is blessed. Sometimes bystanders or others involved get blessed. You, as the giver, may feel good about what you have given but you are robbing yourself of the blessing God has for YOU in this.
This week, our Family Care Team has had the honor of helping a local woman who is a lifetime resident of Piatt County. She has gone through a terrible ordeal recently and is facing many obstacles that are putting her livelihood in jeopardy. Our care team sat down with her Monday and put together a service plan. The reality was that we needed to raise nearly $1,000 in just a few days to meet her immediate needs. Knowing what an amazing and generous community this is, our team was not concerned about raising this money one bit. We were concerned about her mental and emotional well-being, the depths of her loneliness, the enormous pain she has suffered, the trauma she has endured, and the hopelessness she expressed.
Did we raise the money needed? Yes. Was she blessed by that money? Yes. It could’ve stopped there and some amazing charity would’ve been achieved. Her obstacles were knocked down and her path forward became more clear. Charity is good, it IS powerful. But guess what? God had more planned. He gave all three of our care team members the opportunity to spend precious hours of time with her this week. We talked over coffee. We laughed. We cried (a lot). We hugged. We shared hurts and losses together. We celebrated wins together.
Either way, this sweet lady would’ve walked away blessed this week by those who gave money to help her. But, the gift of time and COMMUNITY that we all got to share with her throughout the week was SO MUCH more powerful. She left our office today feeling loved, cared for, embraced by a community. Our team was blessed by the way she opened up to us and shared with us. We were rejuvenated and re-energized, something that is always desperately needed given the line of work we do and the horror stories we hear all too much. Later in the day, she called to share with us another piece of great news she received. We three celebrated in our office and it put some extra “pep in our step” the rest of the day. These are the much-needed things that fuel us to do what we do.
We could have helped her by simply mailing a check. That type of help is certainly not to be discounted. But, if we had stopped at the level of charity rather than engaging in community with her, we all would’ve been robbed of so much. If you feel led to give charity, please do. Don’t ever discount the impact it can have. BUT, the next time you feel this urge, stop and ask yourself “how could I turn this from charity into community?” It may feel a little scary. You may feel vulnerable. The one thing I PROMISE you won’t feel is regret!