We see people with cardboard signs all the time that say, HUNGRY or NEED FOOD. But what can you do about it? What if you could help a family that is in need get food in a dignified way? This is the question that we have been working to answer over the last couple of months. So at Elevation Christian Church we have an amazing group of volunteers that take our building and set it up for a free market that helps people that live in our community that are in need get food in a dignified way.
So to do this we work with an organization that helps us provide quality food through the free market to the people in our community. We choose to work with this organization because most of the time when you ask people to donate food they give you the food products that they don’t like (sauerkraut) or have had for years. (Expiration not noticed) Or when you ask people to donate money they think they are already helping someone by giving them money as the pass by them holding their cardboard sign. I watched a TED TALK where the Mayor of Albuquerque talked about how by donating financially to a food bank or free market can make a greater impact when it comes to helping people get food. Unfortunately when we give someone money on the street is less likely to go to feeding them but to feeding their addiction. So at the Free Market at Elevation we are able to purchase large amounts of quality food where we can then give it to the people that are in need for FREE. That is why it is called, “The Free Market at Elevation.”
Through the amazing volunteers at Elevation we create a mini grocery store with grocery carts and all where people can get the food they need for themselves and for their families. We also have people called, “Shoppers Helpers” that walk through the Free Market with the people from the community to build a relationship with them. It is not someone that probes about their issues or their needs but someone that can become a friendly face. Then once the person is done going through the market the shoppers helper asks how they can pray for that person and gives them a card or some encouragement. We recently had over 100 second graders from a local school come and help set-up and while they helped they also created cards to give to the shoppers of the Free Market. I was told that one man went through the market for the first time where he recieved his food, had someone pray with him, and then he recieved one of the second graders cards. What I was told was the man thanked his shoppers helper for their prayers, then began to walk out of the building, while he was on the front walk way he read the card from one of the second graders. He was so overcome with with the care and the card that he came back into the building with tears streaming down his face to let the volunteers know how thankful he was for the food, the care, and the card. He said that it was all just what he needed that day.
I tell you this because you can be a part of the Free Market at Elevation. You can help people that are in need of food by your donations and when you donate you know that they are getting quality food and dignified care at the same time. Just click here. Because when you do you will be doing what is best for the person that is most likely going to be holding a sign some day saying, “In need of food”. Be a part of the movement to make sure that someone is being fed and fed well physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
One of the things that I have come to realize is that when it comes to being a generous person its not about what we do it is about who we are. For me I was raised in home where being generous to people around you was just who you were. It wasn’t something you had to think about, or guess about, you just did it. So when I got married I just started doing what I thought was the natural thing to do. Well my wife had grown up differently then me and it was a point of great conversation for us. (That’s called an argument.) So we both had to come to a mutual understanding of what we were going to do when it came to being generous. Which honestly was a really good thing for both of us to come to as a couple. I would really say it was a great chance for me to grow as a husband, father, and as person that works in the faith community. (church)
You see because of that difference between my wife and I it enabled me to see how and why people struggle when it comes to being generous in and with their faith community. For us at Elevation we talk a lot about being generous in fact we want to be known for our “Insane Generosity” to the community around us. But for a community of faith (church) to be generous that means the people of the church need to be generous with what they give to that church. If you are a part of a faith community then you will have heard this is about offerings and about tithing. (We are not going to argue Old Testament vs New Testament giving.) So we want people to see that for us to be generous as a church community then the people need to be a part of that through their generosity through their tithes and offerings.
But most people honestly struggle here because of the different ways that they were raised. Some were raised that all you had was yours and that you take care of your own. Some were raised without anything so you had to keep whatever you had to be able to make it. Others were raised where you were just generous enough to make sure you looked good. While as others were raised with the idea that helping someone in need is just what you did that you were generous.
So it is my hope that I can encourage people to live out a generous life. Whether it is by caring for your neighbor. (Hopefully you know who they are.) By providing some food for another student at your school. (Had one of my kids do this.) Or through the tithes and offerings you share with your community of faith. (My wife does this for us now.) Because as you begin to do this you will be amazed that the words of the New Testament begin to be lived out your life in an amazing way.
Acts 20:35b “You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
How are you living out a life of insane generosity in your life? How are you being generous with your faith community so that they can be generous with the community around it?
While I was in Colorado visiting with some church leaders about the start of a new church. I had the great opportunity to be able to go have lunch with a new friend in an old and very important place. You see we met at Senor Ric’s it was the place where 18 years ago I proposed to Michelle to marry me. Now some of you may be thinking wow Scott you are a big spender, doesn’t look like much. Well, I was twenty two and that was where Michelle told me it was her favorite place to eat. Had nothing to do with being fancy it had to do with it being the place that they lady I liked a lot love to go too.
I remember that after I had gone and asked her dad if it was OK to marry Michelle that I had to go and get the ring that she had already told me that she liked. I just want to remind then young guys out there that yes you need to ask the father to marry the daughter. (My thought is that if you don’t have the guts to ask for her hand in marriage then as a father how do I know that you are going to have the guts to stand up for her.)
I began to prepare for the evening by asking Michelle if she wanted to go out and get some food. I told her that I would take her to her favorite place, “Senor Ric’s”. She was way excited and so was I, so excited that I began to sweat just thinking about the coming evening. So I bought some flowers in an arrangement to place the ring case in for her to receive from the waiter as he came to the table with our drinks. I took the flowers and the ring to the restaurant that afternoon with the understanding that if they were not there when I showed up with my girl that someone would surely would get to meet Jesus personally face to face.
We made it to the restaurant and we were sat down at the table next to the kitchen. With the waiter that knew what was going on. Michelle and I ordered our drinks and the waiter went on his way. I just remember that as he walked away to get our drinks I remember that my mouth went dry real fast and my heart began to beat louder then it had ever before. I also remember seeing all of the kitchen staff and other staff of the restaurant begin to be hanging around the door. Then there it was the tray with the flowers and the ring. The waiter walked out and placed it on the table in front of Michelle and I sat there caught in the moment watching her face search the flowers and with surprise notice the open box with the ring in it. I then made my way to one knew next to the table and grabbed her by the hand and asked her to marry me. I have to say that in that moment between the question and the answer I felt my heart almost stop and wait just like the kitchen staff that were standing around the room. I will never ever forget the joy and warmth that I experienced when she said, “Yes”. It was in that moment that I even remember the couple next to us in the other table stop and watch as I grabbed her hand and placed the ring on her finger. I was so excited that I almost didn’t notice the tears in her eyes and the cheer that we received from the room and that group of kitchen staff that had waited as long as I had that day to hear her answer.
It was that day I remember thinking that this is the beginning to a new, exciting, and amazing phase in my life. I have not be disappointed one bit! Having Michelle on loan to me as my wife is amazing and I will never be able to express to her how much that one word of “Yes” ever meant to me.
Think about the places that you have made decisions in or places that have great meaning to your walk with those in your life, or in your walk with Christ and know that there can always be new memories in old places.