Audrey at Barking Mad is asking readers to write a post about our favorite charity/humanitarian organization/non profit group and why it's so near and dear to our hearts. I have been giving this some thought and several ideas have easily come to the forefront. My favorites would be Horizon Ministries, Habitat for Humanity, and any organization that works to feed people because there are just so many hungry people in this world, literally and figuratively.
I would say that my first favorite humanitarian group would be my church, Horizon Ministries. I don't say this because my husband is the pastor. I say this because of our Four Areas of Focus: intimacy with God; fellowship with insiders; influence with outsiders; and extending hope to the poor. I also say this because we really mean it. We choose to be very outward-focused, be it locally or globally. For a little church (very little, about 50-60 people at this time), we pack a lot of punch in our community. For example, we are spearheading a free car wash this Saturday. It was Jim's idea, but we have invited other local churches to participate. The purpose is to show that for the sake of others, we need to give something up (time, money, bits of ourselves, etc). We are to do this for those in the church, outside the church and even for those who don't love God.
One of my favorite things that we did for three years was called 5K. It was based on Jesus' feeding of the 5000. Every Thursday, the back of our '88 Suburban was loaded up with about 60 pizzas (from both local pizzarias, just to be fair) and coolers full of pop. When the lunch bell rang, high school kids would come out to get a free lunch. Jim stressed to all those involved that we were not to mention our church, we were not to evangelize, we were not to mention God. What we were to do was build connections and to let the kids know that they mattered. The kids could eat as much as they wanted until the food was gone. The only rule was that they start out with two pieces of pizza and one can of pop to help ensure that anyone who came could get served. The high school principal at the time was very cynical when Jim mentioned the idea to him. "Jim", he said, "Everyone is just going to think you're weird". Jim's response was to say, "Look, I'm not asking for your approval. I'm just giving you a heads-up in case cafeteria sales are effected". The principal said, rather condescendingly, "Cafeteria sales will not be effected". The first week, we served about 50 kids. The second week, we served about 110 kids. The third week and every week after for the next three years, we served about 200 kids. Cafeteria sales were effected and the cafeteria ladies almost got the principal's head on a platter. Once it was realized, the cafeteria adjusted the amount of food they prepared on Thursdays and everyone was happy.
We do other missions in the community and in other countries like the Philippines and the Dominican Republic. We are always finding ways to feed people. We are always extending our hands out to others. We do it Sunday through Saturday, not just the days we attend worship. Jim stresses that it should be a way of life, not a day out of your week. I know, I know. This is what Christians are supposed to do. We just really try to live it. You know, Christians are often the worst advertisement for the cause because they frequently don't walk their talk. Jim encourages us to make our walk and talk congruent and not scare people away with condemnation.
Our little church began 10 1/2 years ago, as a phoenix emerging from the flames (a story for another day). We often joke about being the church on the Island of Misfit Toys. And we seem to be---Jim says we are all just a bunch of knuckleheads, ahem, his favorite term of endearment. Because Jim is willing to think outside the box and take risks, he has been ridiculed, ostracized, and condemned in this tiny little town. Although, it has been very pain-filled, Jim just kept repeating, "Time and truth walk hand-in-hand". And you know what? It has. It's still not easy, but it's easier. Jim's willingness to face the obstacles and the arrows and to persevere despite it all just makes me love him all the more.