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To Ease the Suffering of Others

May 22, 2012

Is it really so hard to find something we can do to make someone else’s life just a little better, if only for a moment? In a world filled with hunger and poverty, sorrow and helplessness, surely we are all called to do what we can to ease the suffering of others.

Last year on advice from my oldest daughter Allison, I read the Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.  It was eye opening to see how individuals could combine what little they have and change their community. It was about showing the love of Jesus. So as I pondered the Irresistible Revolution I wondered what difference I could make in my own community. I’m not rolling in dough but we have been blessed with enough that we lack for nothing we need. We never go hungry, we have clothes to wear and we can pay our utility bills every month.  Our cars have over 200 thousand miles on them, but they run and get us where we need to go. We are blessed.

So, one winter morning as we sat in Sunday School class, one of our members told how his wife came home from teaching one day, saddened after hearing a student talk about how he didn’t sleep well because his whole family shared the only heated room. As I listened, I thought of Shane Claiborne and his thoughts on community and I spoke up with an idea. What if we as a class started a benevolence fund and contributed to it each week?  What if we each did without a special coffee or fast food meal and instead, put that money into our benevolence fund.  It seemed a pretty small sacrifice to make once a week and it wasn’t like any of us were going hungry. So we put a box on the piano in the back of the class, marked it Benevolence Fund, and wrote on it our mission statement, “To ease the suffering of others.” At the end of class, the money would be counted and deposited into our class fund where the church financial officer could keep account. Each week we would discuss what to do with the money, continuing to be surprised as to how much we had to spend or donate in best meeting the needs of others.  We prayed over each offering, asking that the Lord multiply it as He did with the loaves and fishes.

Throughout the year we looked for ways to help and the search never took long. We partnered with the local schools by providing shoes, socks, toiletries, clothing, and winter coats for students in need. We contributed to school weekend and summer backpack food programs so students would not go hungry when not in school. We paid a student’s college application fee.  In addition to helping with the schools, we paid for a family to have their house resided and windows replaced. We helped pay medical expenses for a young boy who lost his foot in a lawn mowing accident. We gave sleeping bags to a family living in their car and provided bunk beds to a family whose children had no beds. We supplied youth clothing of all sizes to a local hospital for when kids are brought in after being removed from meth houses so they have something to wear. We gave the Sheriff’s department hundreds of stuffed animals to be given to kids when they are part of an emergency event. And during the holiday season we filled food boxes and bought Christmas gifts for children.

When the year ended, my husband tallied all the money and supplies collected and compiled a report to give the class. We were astounded when we realized that together we had been able to donate nearly $6,000 in money and supplies, reaching throughout our community, and all of this accomplished by each of us making a small weekly sacrifice.  It has been amazing to see how the Lord has taken our small offering and multiplied it to stretch and meet the needs at hand.  It has also been such a joy to come in community together, reaching out to meet the needs of one another, being the hands and feet of Jesus. And this year is no different, and hopefully we will continue forever. Thank you to Shane Claiborne for living and writing the Irresistible Revolution, to Allison for encouraging me to read it, and thank you God for blessing us so we can help ease the suffering of others.

“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:10-15

From → Life with Jesus

  1. Rylee permalink

    Rebekah! This is a wonderful and precious beginning to your new life of blogging:) Your words touched me so much, and I am going to get that book to read ASAP. I have been a little too “inward thinking” this year. We, too, are blessed with all that we have. We don’t have extra at the end of the month, but all of our needs are met. Too often I allow myself to pull out the streamers and balloons and get the pity party rolling. You have challenged me to get moving this summer and bless those who are truly in need. I can’t wait to read your next installment:)

  2. Thank you! My girls are always teaching me something new. Thank God for our girls!

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