This morning a woman came to the church looking for gas money. I've helped her before and she now keeps coming back for more. She always has a good story and my heart aches for her. The last two times I have told her I wasn't able to do it anymore because our funds for that have been affected by the economy and we save it for members of the church in need.
She told me that she and her husband were all alone. Their family was back in Peurto Rico. I asked her again about church and she said she didn't belong to one. Again she reiterated that she was all alone and there was no one to help.
Now the truth is that she was a little too smooth. Before I could suggest someone else who could help, she beat me to it and named all the other social agencies in town as well as many of the other churches who usually have some funds to help. I also know that at my suggestion she did talk to Pastor Jorge from the Buenas Nuevas congregation here at First Baptist. I suggested she visit his church and get to know him an the good folks there. Pastor Jorge told me she showed up after church one day looking for money. She had no interest in attending services.
When I talked to her today I explained that one of the benefits of belonging to a church was that it became an extended family. The church becomes the support we need when life gets tough. I told her that is what our Deacon's fund is for and that is why many churches limit access to outsiders. These funds are to help our members when they need a little lift.
When she left today she still didn't get it. It made me think about the fact that so many of us think we need to go through life alone, without the support of community. We only reach out when we get in trouble. Of course we do the same thing to God. We live as if He didn't exist and then call on him when something happens. But life is so much better if we live it with God and the faith community. We find strength there. We find hope and encouragement. It also opens the door for us to be a comfort and strength to others as well.
That's the great thing about community. What goes around, comes around. What you give often comes back to you. Are you part of a church family? If not, I'd like to suggest you find one. Check out various churches until you find a place with people you can identify with and a clergy person who speaks to your heart. You will be blessed and your family will grow.