How do I accept this donation? I am taking what he has. He doesn't have enough to buy his own pair of socks! Yet here he is offering this $1.40 to be put towards our expenses for our Donuts and Friends Program. He Is giving what he can't afford to make sure we have enough to help others. I take his money, and he smiles. He is not getting a hand out any longer. He is giving to the work for the Lord with the homeless.
This happened at the last Donuts with Friends we did in Fort Collins. The gentleman I reference is real, he had no money, he was not a clean person and most people would look at him as a "bum." But he had the heart to give what he could...to pay it forward...giving to help others in need.
It reminded me of Mark 12 41-44 "Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came and put in two small coins - a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, "The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they'll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford - she gave her all." (MSG)
We have seen this kind of giving before. One Saturday morning we were serving donuts and coffee to the homeless in Fort Collins. There was a group of young men sitting in the park with a partial case of water. One of the young men walked over to our coffee and donuts table and asked if we would share the water with the other needy people in the park. He explained that the water had been dropped off at the park for all the homeless and it wasn't meant just for his small group! All I could think was WOW, would I give it up so easily?
There was another time another person came up to me and gave me back a pair of socks because he had a clean pair in his backpack and "he knew" someone else could use them that didn't have any good socks. It is humbling and encouraging to see this attitude from so many that have so little. It is sometimes hard to give from our plenty, we want to go to dinner, we want to see the latest movie, or buy that thing that we have seen so many times on television.
Lord help us to have the giving attitude, the soft hearts, the attitude of how blessed we truly are, and how you see our giving.
If you want to see the $1.40 when you come to the ranch I still have it, under my desk blotter as a daily reminder of that gentleman and how he taught about giving extravagantly what he could not afford.
Soaring Wings Ministries is located on Trinity Lane in Wellington, Colorado. It is a private road about 1/2 mile long and we are one of three families living on Trinity Lane. About two weeks ago I was praying about how I could reach out to our neighbors and when I finished praying I had the thought to bring each of them a box of apples. I clearly pictured a cardboard box filled to the top with apples. I had no idea where I would get such a box of apples as there are no apple orchards near by, and it would be very expensive to go to the grocery store and buy a box of apples. I kept the thought in the back of my mind and thought it sounded like a nice thing to do but didn't know if I really would deliver a box of apples to our neighbors.
Every Wednesday morning I attend a ladies Bible study group. There are about 5 of us who meet together meet each week at the same house. Each week we dig into God's word together, pray, fellowship, laugh and usually end our time together talking about our families, food, gardens or recipes. My friend has HUGE apple tree growing in her back yard and as we were leaving she told us to go pick some apples from her tree to take home. She had some paper bags for us to put the apples in but ran out of bags so she went into her shed and grabbed a box for me to put my apples in. It was a joy to pick apples with my friends on a sunny, fall day and I ended up with a box filled to the top with freshly picked apples.
The crazy thing is that as I was picking apples and putting them in the box, I never once thought of our neighbors and how God had whispered in my ear about giving them a box of apples. Instead, I was thinking about what I would make with the apples when I got home.....apple crisp, maybe apple pies or maybe applesauce that I would put in the freezer. God knows that I am forgetful and that I need reminders as to what He wants me to do because as I was driving home from Bible Study I stopped to check our mail and saw one of our neighbors drive by. I waved to her and thought to myself, "I wonder how I can reach out to her more". I then though to myself, I sure wish I had a box of apples to give to her and I immediately remembered the box of apples in the back seat that I had just picked at my friends house! Honestly, I thought to myself, "What a dope I am!". Of course those apples weren't intended for my family! The box of apples were clearly intended for my neighbor as it was EXACTLY what I had pictured in my mind after my prayer time with God a few weeks ago!
No box of apples had ever looked so beautiful to me as I knew without a doubt that it was God who had clearly provided these apples for me to deliver to our neighbor. It was through no effort of my own, other than picking them from a tree, that I ended up with a box of freshly picked apples. I was so excited and amazed to see how God had so effortlessly and simply provided the box of apples. Clearly, God is involved in our day to day lives and does guide and direct our thoughts and actions to accomplish His will. I delivered the box of apples to one of our neighbors and she was very happy to receive them. Beyond that, I don't know anymore as to why I was to deliver a box of apples to our neighbor. All I know is that I prayed, God whispered in my ear, gave me a clear picture of a box of apples and then provided the box of apples and reminded me to go deliver them to our neighbor. What a joy it is to walk side by side, hand and hand with the Lord God Almighty! He is so powerful and majestic and yet at the same time He involves himself with such a simple thing as a box of apples.
I have one more box of apples to deliver to one more neighbor. I can't wait to go to Bible Study next week and share this story with them and to pick one more box of apples to deliver to our other neighbor. God is good! God is involved with the day to day lives of people here on earth! I encourage each of you to walk closely with Him, talk to Him and watch how He is involved in your life. If you are forgetful like me or thick headed like me, don't worry, God will nudge you along. We don't have any apple crisp or apple pie or applesauce at our house but we have the joy of seeing how God provided a box of apples and the joy of knowing that God is involved in our ordinary, everyday lives.
Soaring Wings Ministries
Do you know what "cause marketing campaigns are?" I had no idea but I had signed up for a workshop and was ready to learn. I was attending a Colorado Non-Profit Conference in Denver, Colorado this past week and was ready to step out of my comfort zone and learn about a subject that I knew noting about. I wasn't exactly sure what "cause marketing campaigns" are but it sounded interesting and I was ready to dive in and to expand my knowledge in the world of non-profits.
I walked eagerly into the workshop and sat down next to a lady about my age. She asked me about the non-profit that I was representing. I told her about Soaring Wings Ministries and explained that our mission was to serve homeless young adults and families in Northern Colorado. Her immediate response was "wow, that is a tough sell". She proceeded to share with me that people are often repulsed by the homeless and would rather donate money to non-profits that helped cute little puppies or kittens. She said that she once worked on a campaign for a homeless agency and it was the hardest campaign she ever did because she could not find any "appealing" or "cute" pictures of homeless people!!!! I didn't respond much to her comments but merely agreed and said yes that people who live on the streets are often not very attractive.
The presenter for the workshop was ready to begin and so my conversation with the lady next to me ended. The presenter wanted to know the size of the non-profits that were attending the workshop and asked those non-profits who had an annual budget of a million dollars or more to raise their hands. Guess who raised their hand?!!! You got it!!! The lady sitting next to me raised her hand. She was a marketing specialist for a non-profit who had an annual budget of over 1 million dollars. She was not the only person who raised her hand. There were over a dozen non-profits in that workshop who had annual budgets of over $1 million dollars. I couldn't even begin to image what it would be like to have that much money for an annual budget!
The lady next to me whipped out her Windows Tablet and was ready to take notes. I also whipped out my tablet but it was the old fashioned kind....a spiral bound tablet of lined paper. I was glad to at least have a brand new pen to use that day. I was ready to dive into the world of "cause marketing campaigns"! I learned about cause marketing, cause awareness, collaborations, assets, corporate partnerships, creating platforms, national campaigns, media partners, etc....(see you can take really good notes with pen and paper!).
As I sat through the workshop I began to feel very small, very discouraged and very overwhelmed. I was sitting next to a lady who worked for a non-profit who had an annual budget of over 1 million dollars. I knew that we weren't even close to using or would probably never use a "cause marketing campaign" for Soaring Wings Ministries. The non-profits that used cause marketing would be investing over $80,000 dollars to launch and complete the campaign and I can tell you that Soaring Wings Ministries doesn't have anything close to
$80,000. I knew that if we ever were blessed to have $80,000 in our budget we would NOT use it for a "cause campaign". I thought of the little house on 40 acres back in Wellington, Colorado that is the beginnings of Soaring Wings Ministries. I thought of the vision God has given us to expand on this property to house some homeless young adults and families and I thought of what $80,000 could do to provide a home for some of the young people and families that we have met on the streets of Fort Collins.
I kept taking notes during the workshop on my "tablet" but rather than taking notes about "cause marketing" I began to write things like..."God Works". "Serve God above all else". "God is bigger than cause marketing campaigns". I sat in the workshop and thought of the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. I thought of what really mattered in that interaction between Jesus and the woman at the well and what really matters in life. The woman at the well was looked down upon because of her mixed race and her relationships with men. Jesus was meeting with her in a public place. He was talking to her and spending time with her. No respectable Jewish man, at that day and age, would have interacted with this woman like Jesus did. I wrote in my notes that what really matters, is not cause marketing campaigns but loving people, caring for them, giving them stability, spending time with them and telling them about Jesus. I left that workshop knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that Soaring Wings Ministries is headed on the right path. We maybe small. We may not have an annual budget of over 1 Million dollars but we are doing what truly matters by following Jesus' example. We are spending time with people that are often scary, unattractive, looked down upon and sometimes repulsive. I left the workshop trusting God to provide for Soaring Wings Ministries and felt confident in putting my faith in Him instead of a "cause campaign".
We arrived home after the conference and I put my notes from the workshops I attended on my desk to share with my family at another time. We had a guest coming for lunch and I needed to prepare for his arrival. It was time to unpack, vacuum, clean the bathroom and take out the trash....you know....all those things people do before guests arrive. We were looking forward to spending time with our guest and we were excited for the opportunity to know him better and to share with him about Soaring Wings Ministries. We had a pleasant lunch talking about our families, our common interests and our lives in Colorado. It was time to say good bye to our guest but before he left he wrote a check for $1,0000 to Soaring Wings Ministries. I immediately thought of the workshop I attended and the notes I had written on my "tablet" about God being bigger than "cause marketing campaigns". God indeed is BIGGER! God will indeed grow Soaring Wings Ministries in HIS TIME and in HIS WAY. We put our faith and trust completely in Him. God does indeed work. We are to serve Him above all else and to reach out to those people who are not as cute as puppies and kittens but who are infinitely more precious because they are human beings and make in the image of God himself.
Soaring Wings Ministries
Anita Rennells is the author of this blog. She and her husband have moved to Colorado when Ed retired and are in the process of opening a ranch to help homeless young adults.
Soaring Wings Ministries