Thanks for leading last Friday at the Soup Kitchen. My 1st experience at the Soup Kitchen was about 3 months ago. All I did that day was just set up, but when I left at 3pm I noticed a line of people and cars in the back of the church and couldn’t believe all those people were about to enter the church. So that curiosity made me come back.
Last Friday as we prayed as a group I couldn’t pay attention because I just keep looking at the doors and couldn’t imagine me being on the other side waiting for free food. Once the doors were open it was like a scene from “NEXT”—everyone running to their table and within seconds, soup and drinks where being severed. I was a part of the “talking team” so I just had a chance to take a step back and observe for the first 10 minutes as people where getting served. Then it was my turn to join the fun. I just went around talking football and cracking jokes to break the ice and to my surprise everyone there seemed very happy to talk. I asked them if they attend this church or a church in the area. No matter the response I told them that we attended CLC and would love to have them as a guest and gave them an English or Spanish invitation. I did not get a chance to pray for anyone but I saw two other members for CLC praying for some people I already spoke with and that provoked me to have more faith next time and ask if they also need prayer.
I think this is a great way to serve and reach out to the community. I look forward to doing it again in January and just experience this event with other friends and family members.
In April a caseworker from the City of Gaithersburg, put me in touch with an older couple named Mark and Julie. They’d been living in the same dingy apartment building for over twenty years and had just been informed that they would need to move. Julie had mobility issues and Mark wasn’t able to keep a steady job. Their sole income came from welfare checks and most of it went to pay rent. Sometimes, they went without food for an entire week until their next check arrived.
When I met this couple, two things immediately struck me - it was very dim in their apartment - and I was grateful for that. There seemed to be a coating of grime and filth over everything in their small two-bedroom apartment. Everything was old and shabby. Except for the smiles on Mark and Julie’s faces. They lit up when we were introduced. Right then I had a fresh vision for serving these people - I wanted to do what I could to help them and show them Christ’s love.
My care group decided to adopt this couple. We picked up boxes and other supplies to assist with the move. Five of us met at Giant to buy sandwich foods, then made our way to Mark and Julie’s. They were so blessed when we told them we wanted to share our lunch with them and give them all the leftovers.
The ladies in my caregroup immediately engaged Mark and Julie and began fixing them lunch. Our men didn’t waste any time either. They jumped right into boxing up the apartment and hauling out clutter. After five hours we were about halfway done. But I felt like I was on holy ground. The way Angel, Gerre, Jessica, and Lena served was exemplary. They jumped right into serving, not waiting for someone to tell them to do something, but taking initiative. And doing an outstanding job. I was so humbled to see them entering into the filthy world of that apartment, engaging with the dirt and grim with a smile, all because they wanted to serve this couple they had never met before. That was Christ-likeness on display. They weren’t just there to do a good deed and move on. No, they drew out Mark and Julie about their lives and beliefs. And they wanted to do more!
Two Tuesdays later, we used our caregroup time to continue the job. Brian Whalen, Susan Alexander, and Erin Jones were able to come this time. I was thrilled that Mark and Julie would meet different members of the caregroup, because I knew each person was a unique testimony of God’s love. I was also excited for my group to catch a vision for serving and laying their lives down.
We spent around two and a half hours going through their bedrooms packing up their stuff and throwing out what they no longer needed. And when we were finished everything was mostly packed and ready to go.
We chose Sunday afternoon for the final move. After several trips back and forth everything was in the new place, the old apartment was cleaned out, and Mark and Julie were settled in their new home.
We probably spent 5 hours moving them that final day, but God gave each of us so much joy in our serving, that the time seemed short. It was awesome to see how we were able to help in such a tangible way to dramatically improve their standard of living.
It encouraged me to see folks in my caregroup give of their time and energy to serve this couple we probably will never see again. And to see them do it for God’s glory, not for an earthly reward.
First of all, thank you to those who prayed on Tuesday for our Bible study with Grace & Esther. Last night Esther gave her life to the Lord (!) and we wanted to send you all a brief account. Our God is so mighty to save and continues to show His mercy through loving and saving sinners!
Kate: So sometime in the spring my friend Shang (who introduced me to Sunny) asked me to start meeting with a girl from her home church who had grown up in a Christian family, but did not know the Lord. I met Esther soon thereafter and we met up all through the spring. She even invited her friend Grace to join our Biblestudy back in April. We met through the summer and this fall started going through “How Good is Good Enough” together. Chavia was able to join us a few times and the girls really enjoyed getting to know her. The last two Bible studies (last week and this) felt particularly led by the Lord and empowered by His Spirit. Everyone, including Grace & Esther, came away excited about what we were learning, even though the conversations were very weighty and revealing. The girls acknowledged that they did not yet know the Lord, but were aware of their need for a Savior. We talked through the barriers holding them back and on Tuesday, I encouraged them to take a sheet and put it by their bed. On the sheet I asked them to write out any evidences of God showing up in their lives this week. Chavia and I committed to pray for them and specifically that God would reveal Himself to them in an undeniable way. He did.
Chavia: After I met Esther, we pretty much hit it off right away. She loves sports, and so I was able to connect with her through softball. Yesterday, Kate was having lunch with her and so I asked her if she would want to hang out and go to The Gathering that night. She agreed, and so last night we hung out just talking and talking for several hours in the Stamp, while we were waiting for the meeting to start. She ended up pouring out her heart, and told me that the thing that was keeping her from trusting Jesus as her Lord and Savior were her past sins. I reminded her of how when you put your trust in Jesus, He covers you with His righteousness, and forgives you of your sin. I really sensed the Spirit the whole time we were talking. When we got to The Gathering, there was a verse that they put on the screen from Ezekiel 36:25-27. It talks about how the Lord cleanses us from all our sins, and gives us a new heart of flesh taking out our heart of stone. I felt the Lord wanted me to read it to Esther after the service. The message that night was all about the Lord’s specific love for each of us, and the pastor spoke to people who were holding back from accepting Jesus because of their sins. At the end he took communion, and gave the explanation of how only people who are Christians could partake. I leaned over and asked Esther what she was thinking. She said she thought we should go up there, and asked me if I could pray with her. As I led her through the sinner’s prayer, she cried and cried! Afterward, she was sooo happy, and kept talking about the new peace in her heart. I shared Ezekiel 36 with her again and she told me that verse had really spoken to her when she saw it on the screen. All in all, it was an awesome night, and I really wish that Kate could have been there, since she’s been investing in Esther’s life since last spring :) But, as Kate and I were talking this morning we were able to rejoice in the truth that it is not the sower or the reaper who gets the glory, but the Lord who is mighty to save! He is truly in the midst of this campus, and we are excited to see what else He is going to do!
Please pray for Esther’s friend Grace and her roommate, Tiffany, to know the Lord just as Esther has!
Just wanted to take a moment to honor someone in the singles ministry who is a great person. It’s not because of some extraordinary skill or talent—he does something most any of us could; he gives his time to help the youth of Emory Grove.
For two years Olu Edegbai has been going to the Emory Grove Resource Center on average four days a week for three hours a day and at times during the summer for 40 hours a week. Olu is great because he is like our Savior in the way he seeks to humbly give his life away for others. The best way to honor Olu would be to let you read the words of the workers and kids that he has affected.
“He has been consistent, reliable and hardworking through out his tenure with us. His willingness to help in any way has enhanced our program and the lives of the youth he works with. Olu is patient, understanding and considerate to everyone he comes in contact with. His thoughtful and accepting nature has allowed our youth to feel comfortable and to approach him for advice and/or helping in almost any capacity.” —Stephanie Semones, director with Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) who nominated Olu for the 2009 Community Action Award
“He has developed great relationships with the children who attend the Family Resource Center. The children truly look forward to his arrival in the afternoon, as does the staff. It is such a relief to see Olu walk through the door of the Center each day, and it always amazes me that he shows up with as much energy and excitement as he did his first day.” —Kelly Keegan, Director Emory Grove FRC
“Mr. Olu is nice and helpful. He is very smart so no matter what grade you are in, he can help you with your homework…even if it means staying past closing time. If it’s dark after we’re done, Mr. Olu would walk my sisters and I home. We are very blessed to have him here. I thank God for sending us such a wonderful helper.” —Belinda A., youth at Emory Grove