What Happens When You Put Your "Faith in Action"
This last Sunday, more than 100 volunteers from Community Lutheran Church went into the community to serve. We call this semi-annual event Faith in Action, because instead of just talking about our faith, we demonstrate our faith! Jesus summarized the Law in this way: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). What could be a more beautiful demonstration of the church than worshiping first thing Sunday morning (love the Lord your God) and then going into the community to serve following worship (love your neighbor)!
Yes, it makes for a long Sunday. Yes, it may interfere with your Sunday brunch after church or perhaps your Sunday nap. Yes, it means you'll need to come to church in your work clothes because your service project might be messy. There are many reasons that participating in Faith in Action can be a challenge, but those who participate are motived by God's love for others to set aside their worries, concerns, and their own plans in order to see what God has in store.
So how did God use Community Lutheran Church to make a difference?
Our on-campus project in Escondido, packing Military Care Packages, has always been our most popular project. Sign-ups for this project were full within an hour of placing out the sign-up sheet! In fact, some members even added lines to the project with their names after it was full! How wonderful it is to know that our church cares so much for military servicemen and servicewomen overseas. Steve and Teresa Staton headed up the project once again and made contact with the troops who will ultimately receive these packages. Teresa said, "Care packages are very much needed. We still have thousands of troops in Afghanistan. At some locations, one of the first facilities to close down is the chow hall while front line troops remain and left to eat Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s). The troops do not complain, but I know they would be grateful to receive a care package with goodies. As a former service member, I can attest that MRE’s are not all that tasty. Additionally, due to budget cuts, some replacement units have had their deployments canceled, which means that units who have been serving in Afghanistan may have their deployments extended. Some troops do not receive any care packages for a variety of reasons or just need a pick-me-up from a stranger to make their day and remind them that they are not forgotten." By the grace of God, we received even MORE donations of items to fill the packages than we had originally expected! Teresa planned to send 30 boxes, but donations of items and monetary donations from individuals and from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans allowed us to send 34 boxes!
North County Interfaith also connected us with a few project opportunities. Sarah Huhn led youth in packing lunches for the homeless. Dale Richter led members who signed up to paint apartments on Aster Street. Interfaith family apartments provide one year of free or low rent housing for previously homeless families. During their one year stay, Interfaith arranges job training, legal assistance, or whatever is necessary to help families become independent. Our members had the opportunity to help prepare two apartments for new families. In addition, members worked on community garden boxes at the same apartment complex.
Over in San Marcos, new member David Arendse directed a project to help residents at Lakeview Mobile Home Park. About twenty-five church members divided up landscaping tasks between nine mobile homes. One woman saw our church members working and asked if we could help her father. She was thrilled when they agreed to help with weeds, as her aging father had that very morning been expressing his disappointment in his physical inability to work in his yard. When a small group went to work in his yard, he expressed his gratitude and told them that he couldn't believe that our church would help him at no cost. His daughter said she had never heard of a church doing such a thing!
Dan and Jackie Huhn had the creative idea to put on a "show" for residents at Redwood Terrace. They recruited their own talented children and other families to play and sing for residents gathered around a piano. Following their entertainment, the group of volunteers visited residents in their rooms and brought cards made by children from our church.
And of course, we mustn't forget the service of our Fellowship committee who prepared a lovely lunch for particants before they went into the community.
Thank you to everyone who took time from their busy lives to make an impact on others and to share the love of Christ!