Recently, a family showed up at our conference office on a bitterly cold, windy day. It was a Friday and we were about to go home for the weekend. They were looking for help with food and gas. They looked very much troubled. This is a very common sight for us as well as many of our churches on Sabbath morning. People come seeking help. At times, they are people who go from church to church seeking a handout and are not living responsible lives. Other times, they are people who are genuinely in need. We find ourselves trying to decide the best way to respond to those in front of us, praying about the best way to help them.
This particular Friday was one of those moments. I usually never turn away a request for food or gas. This couple truly was in great need. They had five children, ages 2, 3, 4, 10 and 13 and were all living in a motel room. The husband was out of work and they needed food and gas. We gathered some food we had in the office and took up an offering. One of the ladies went to Walmart and brought back some more food and diapers for the younger ones. We also filled their tank with gas. I felt our part in helping was finished and prepared to leave the office. As I did, a few scriptures came into my mind. “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” and “Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me.” I asked myself, how would I like to be treated in such a situation?
I invited the man to come into my office and tell me his story. They had recently moved back to Oklahoma City but his work wouldn’t start for a few weeks. They had run out of money and were about to be evicted from the motel. I wondered how I would feel in his situation. The old saying, “What would Jesus do?” came into my mind. Then I thought of all the people who had helped me in time of need.
One time, I was in college with a wife and child and our food was gone. That day I received a check from someone unexpectedly that helped us to make it to payday. But most importantly I remembered how much Jesus had given and sacrificed for me. I also remembered how Jesus helped the outcasts, hurting and needy.
An impression came to me that I should do all I could to help him. I asked an Adventist church nearby to donate from their community service fund and they said, “yes.” I contacted our local ministerial alliance, which I am a part of, and four other churches agreed to help. My wife and I always set aside money to help people we hear of who are struggling, so we also contributed.
We worked with a community housing group and got the family into a home. We gathered kitchen supplies and found furniture for them as well. One of our churches also hired him to work on a remodeling project in an area he was trained in. It was amazing to see what can happen when everyone works together for the greater good of others. It was truly a blessing to be a part of it.
I believe it all started with the voice of the Holy Spirit reminding me of Jesus' compassion, love and telling us to go and do likewise. Sounds like true religion to me.
By James Shires, President