“And who is my neighbor?”
Continuing with our Serving Sites blog series, here’s what ForColumbia executive board member Gretchen Shults has to say about why we volunteer to help homeowners at select private residences.
ForColumbia was founded in 2015 to bring Christians together to freely share the love of God by serving our community, side-by-side.
One way we serve our community is by identifying homeowners that could use a little help maintaining their property. We seek in particular to serve our neighbors. Especially those who are elderly, single parents, those battling frightening health issues, or the disabled.
When ForColumbia sends volunteers to the homes of individuals in our community, they are being given an opportunity to love and serve their literal neighbors.
Maybe the yard work or clean-up we provide may not seem like much. However, our desire to give our time and energy to help others is powerful. It sends the message that the otherwise marginalized are seen and valued.
The Tangible Evidence of Faith
In Matthew 25, Jesus offers us the parable of the sheep and goats. In this parable, He tells us of His final return. At that time, all nations will be gathered around His throne. At this moment, He will separate the sheep from the goats.
You might be asking, “What does He mean?” Jesus goes on to explain in verses 35 and 36:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
Upon hearing this, those He is speaking to are puzzled. They can’t remember a single time when they served Jesus in this way. He goes on to say in verse 40:
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Taking ‘Service to Neighbor’ Literally
On April 30, we will be serving at approximately 25 individual homes in our city. The homeowners we will be helping have been referred by their church families, nonprofit organizations, and our city officials.
The volunteers placed in these homes will have the opportunity to love and serve our Savior by loving and serving our neighbors. At these homes, we’ll be doing things like clearing brush, repairing fences, planting flowers, and indoor and outdoor cleaning. Additionally, we often have skilled volunteers. These folks will help by (for example) replacing a toilet, patching a roof, or building a wheelchair ramp.
Last year, a small group of volunteers served a single mom of a child with special needs. We met up with her during a time when she was also fostering a sibling group. After her experience with ForColumbia volunteers she sent me the following message:
“They [the volunteers] were amazing. It was an unbelievable experience that I truly appreciate. It took a ton of things off my neverending list of things that need done.”
I know that this day was an amazing moment for this woman to feel seen and loved by complete strangers. But I also know that these volunteers’ lives were changed. They were deeply blessed by the opportunity to serve her and her children, while also serving the One that unites us. This story gets repeated over and over by teams sent to serve homeowners who could use a helping hand. All praise be to Him!
Pushing Back Against Self-Focus
In a culture where we are constantly bombarded with the temptation to serve ourselves, let us remember the words from Galatians 5:13:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
Join us on Saturday, April 30, to live out God’s calling on our lives as those He has called to serve others.