Yes, it is true. I have now been with Love INC of Benton County for a decade. And what a season it has been! Diamonds are formed under heat and pressure, carefully cut to become as lovely as possible. This analogy applies in so many ways.
We had just moved back from California and I was 'in a place' where I wanted to DO something to live out my beliefs and walk with God. Much of my Christian walk had been cognitive, as I love reading, studying and writing. At that point had had much teaching, training and 'church as usual' stuff. Was often thinking of this scripture; Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." (1 John 1:8 NIV). How are we really helping people?!
Having just finished about 8 years of lay counseling was also very aware that people in crisis needed more than words and advice. People need action to become unstuck and move forward. Providing tangible helps imparts HOPE that things can be different.
Met Wilma, was hired part time. After a little while hours increased and then just kept on increasing! (Smile).
When I began I was very unaware of the pockets of poverty in our community and the different populations that often 'fall through the cracks." The learning curve to begin with was HUGE. Loved it. Loved finding ways to help. Becoming aware fanned the flame I have carried about justice. God really blessed me with this 'job' that fits so well with who He created me to be!
God was at work refining me, deepening my awareness. I also became much more grateful for everything that I had previously taken for granted.
When I began we had two Gap ministries, Durable Medical Equipment and bikes. Today, they are among our most used Gaps and biggest Gaps. The teams that manage these are faithful and visionary! Then we added a third Gap...the hygiene Ministry. A sweet memory about this one is a young lady who was volunteering and one day said to us; "We can do better than this. I want to really bless these people." We had been just putting items in paper bags or plastic even and she decided to buy bright and colorful gift bags, so when she delivered items it was more cheerful. We love how our volunteers make ministry theirs' and add to it! In this current season, we now have a sewing group that makes good quality fabric bags and so the client gets an 'extra' gift in a pretty container too.
From three Gaps we have grown to about twenty in this last decade. Not always easy. And yet, GOD has always made provisions and found the 'right fit' for each Gap Ministry. When transitions happen...He has others 'at the ready' for a new season. During this BIG growing season there were plenty of opportunities for personal growth and refinement as well. And my mercy gift was being well refined with some very health boundaries being established. (Empowering).
Another area of growth, refining is illustrated by this scripture; "Instead, as we lovingly speak the truth, we will grow up completely in our relationship to Christ, who is the head." (Eph 4:15 God's Word Translation). People NEED to hear the TRUTH...and if we can receive what we hear we can move forward.
A client used to call frequently and she would always open with the same words...always. ""I am just a disabled single Mom and I need..."After listening to this many times, I could feel frustration begin to rise. That is always a cue to look at self as to why? So gained some clarity. She called again and began in the same way...and my response was : "Stop. Just stop saying that." Naturally she was stunned and quiet. (Smile). Then speaking truth to her; "You are NOT just a disabled Mom. You are a loving, kind Mom who cares for her children. You are making ways to care for them." She began to sob. "No one has ever said that to me before." After more conversation we came to an agreement that she would never use those words again. Instead she would say, "I am a Mom who loves her children..." Again. The power of words. What we say to ourselves and also what others can choose to speak into, disrupting the negative can bring new light and HOPE!
Many times in those first years people called back and said things like; I had to call you and let you know those were the kindest words I have heard in weeks,. Thank you." Or some would say..."No one has ever talked to me like that. Thank you." We have trained many volunteers over the years in the power and kindness of words. Now every time I hear volunteers on our phones, I am hearing kindness and hope and care. Words WITH actions are phenomenal!
One last story as I have been reflecting over the last decade...thanks to Corrie's good questions for me.
Some years ago we were trying to help a family in the Philomath area. The husband had unexpectedly died in a car crash. The wife and kids and his Mom all lived together in a very old house. Several of our churches helped them with repairs and food and other things over quite a period of time. One of the kids also struggled with some disabilities. We were able to gift this child with a piano someone had donated and it was so enjoyed! Then the Mom in law suddenly died one morning in this woman's arms. For almost 2 years this dear lady would call and cry and talk and ask for prayers. Every week. Sometimes more than once a week. We persevered in speaking healing and hope. And was honestly wondering about how stuck she/they seemed to be. And then...SUDDENLY, after about two years, she calls and says they are moving to be closer to family (we didn't know she had) and that she was going to return to College...and finish her degree, that she had some years earlier been working on...at a Christian College! (Another fact we had not known!).
Lesson's learned; keep persevering. The fire refining this diamond (client) took some time. Keep speaking truth and hope even when seeing no difference...apparently, GOD was at work 'behind the scenes.' And when SUDDDENLY happened she was ready to move forward well!
I am blessed to be in the place God has me. I believe this can be true of all believers. "God has given each of you a gift from His variety of Spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another." (1 Peter 4:10 NLT).Ask Him, listen...He will invite you....
It is a joy to 'find treasures of the darkness' in peoples lives over the years. My favorite part of this job is seeing transformation happen. That list of names continues to grow. Diamonds of people coming out of darkness into His brilliant light and life!
I am BLESSED~~ may you also experience His best for you!
Call Center Manager