Today our family decided to do something new for Thanksgiving. We drove into the Bronx and partnered with our friends Reggie and Ibelsa Stutzman and Real Life Church to serve food and distribute clothing to about 1,000 people. On our way home I asked the family to list things we could give thanks to God for that we observed during our serving experience today. Here’s what we came up with:
Generosity. It was incredible to see how much food, clothing, toiletries, toys, etc. was donated to help and bless those in need.
Volunteers. Seeing about 100 people selflessly give of their time in order to serve others when they likely had their own families and plans to attend to was a testament to the kindness of humanity.
Team work. Those serving were from Real Life Church, other churches, community groups, and individuals (some who simply Googled places to serve and found Real Life’s outreach). Without even knowing each other, people quickly found places to work and did their best to work together to make it a great experience.
Unity in Diversity. In a moment in our nation’s history where there is once again, sadly, a polarizing tension over the issue of race, it was beautiful to be in a place where people of many different races were together simply sharing, working together, and expressing thanksgiving.
Vision. All of this was happening in Hunts Point today because Pastor Reggie and Ibelsa have a vision to see their community transformed by the love of Jesus.
Leadership. Their vision is not just sitting on the shelf. They are actively out in their community demonstrating courageous leadership despite the many obstacles they face.
A Holistic Gospel. I am so grateful that Real Life Church recognizes their calling to minister to the whole person. They don’t just meet in their church and engage in spiritual mental exercises or have spiritual experiences while ignoring the felt needs of their community. Nor do they simply meet people’s physical needs without addressing their spiritual needs. Today they were feeding people, clothing people, sharing the Good News with people, and praying with people. I also know that they actively help people get connected to organizations that can help them overcome addiction and substance abuse issues, relationship issues, immigration issues, and more. God cares about our physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual needs. They preach a whole Jesus for the whole person.
A Servant’s Heart. During our car ride home we talked about how we had gone to serve with the thought that we would be serving food. When we arrived, however, the food duties were pretty well covered. We ended up in the back room sorting clothing donations. Some people might have been discouraged and left, but I was so proud of our girls for embracing a servant’s heart that said, “We aren’t here to do what we want to do, we are here to do whatever is needed.” Everybody loves to do the “sexy” jobs, to give to the “sexy” projects and organizations. But as followers of Jesus, we are called to follow His example of humility and service (John 13:1-17) that says I serve an audience of One (Matthew 6:1-4).
The Body of Christ. We thank God for the Church – the body of Christ. We so appreciate our friends laboring in the Bronx, their desire to be connected with other churches and Christians, and the opportunity we had to join with them to love people in the name of Jesus today. We look forward to more ministry together.
Faith and Prayer. As we were leaving Hunts Point, we drove by Platinum Pleasures. It is a strip club that no longer in business. Pastor Reggie and his church have been praying and believing God to do a miracle and allow them to be able to buy the building as the new home for Real Life Church. I am always so encouraged by their vision to see a place where so much darkness has happened transformed into a beacon of light for Jesus Christ, and their faith to believe that God can do it. They are regularly holding prayer and worship services outside of the club on the sidewalk, calling for heaven to kiss earth on this street corner, and as we drove by today, we joined our prayers with theirs. Will you join them as well? They only need 1 million dollars. Yes, I said ONLY. It’s nothing for a building in the Bronx, and it is nothing for our God who owns the whole earth and all of its resources. If you want to be a part of the Miracle in Hunts Point, you can donate here.