Details that do not matter: we improved or cleaned up 10 yards and washed likely more than 100 cars in the course of 3 nights. After meeting on Monday night, several families hit the streets in order to hand out coupons for the free car wash. God directed our steps even in this effort. It was good to see people knocking on the doors of the houses in our own backyard. Some people did present their coupon for a car wash later in the week.
Tuesday through Thursday started off with a bang, literally, as a lady in our congregation was rear ended at the intersection of Rio Vista and Anacortes Streets. She seems to be okay, but it was a difficult start to our exciting event. Apparently, the enemy of God was not in favor of our efforts. Nonetheless, the car wash and service projects were a large success. We received favor in the eyes of the people in our neighborhood, and it was such a blessing to share a true gift.
I loved hearing the stories at the car wash of how people continually offered money for our efforts. One lady even offered to donate to a charity in our name. One gentleman in particular attempted quite persistently to give some money after we had started to wash his car. After repeatedly telling him, "no, it's a gift," he asked me to take the money and give it to one of the children. Finally, after telling him that it was a gift just like the gift of salvation that we could not earn or pay for, he relented. He expressed his agreement with this truth.
Ron Van Pelt made a contact on Monday night that opened the door for one team to spread beauty bark for an older couple who struggled physically. That contact led to another. Further the first shared the leftover beauty bark with another neighbor that who needed some beauty bark. It was a beautiful picture of sharing a gift because of receiving a gift.
Scott Solver led the charge in cleaning up the green house across the street from the church while Travis gave a good haircut to the line of bushes between the green house and the next house. Later, Scott chopped down the dead cherry tree. Well, actually he, Larry, and Travis each had a hand in bringing it down piece by piece. That particular neighbor attends Emmanuel Baptist in Mount Vernon, and she was simply overwhelmed by the blessing that it was to have that assistance.
There are several other stories to tell about how God arranged meetings with just the right people. From trying to pay for our work, to offering donations, and even promising church attendance people attempted to try to earn or pay for that which was a true gift. I believe we communicated the love of God if even in a small way with our community. It was awesome!
Friday, when we shared hamburgers and hotdogs at Maiben Park, we encountered some hurting people. Several folks took us up on our offer of a free burger or hotdog. One lady sat with us and began sharing some of her story. We discovered that she was homeless and unsure of where she'd sleep that night. We attempted to help, and I’m not sure how much we helped that night. But from her own lips, she was amazed and profoundly grateful for a simple gesture of God’s love instead of judgment or exploitation.
All in all, this outreach effort was a smashing success. I am so thankful for all the participation and support that everyone pitched in. There were some long hours following long days of work for some, but what a blessing. But at the end, we as a church shared the love of Christ with our neighbors, and that is something to be excited about!
Justin began serving as the pastor at Faith in February of 2013. He is passionate about people having the opportunity to hear the good news about eternal life through Jesus Christ.