“Preach the Gospel, Use Words if You Must.” (attributed to St. Francis)
Late one Thursday afternoon I was seated in my office working on my sermon. It was after 4:00 pm and I was trying hard to finish so that I could go home and spend the evening with Wendy. The phone rang; it was Sister Karen from Community Resources.
Sister Karen shared the story of a family: mom, dad and two children staying at Value Place. They had come to Champaign because the father secured a minimum wage job as a forklift driver. Sister Karen suggested the family check for housing at Restoration Urban Ministries; however, they only received new housing applications on Wednesdays. Community resources was able to help pay part of the family’s bill at Value Place; Sister Karen asked if Good Shepherd might be able provide additional help.
To be truthful, I kind of sighed (at least to myself). All I wanted to do was go home. But I knew I couldn’t do that. I remember the words of Francis, “Preach the gospel, use words if you must,” and I knew my sermon would have to wait. I knew I had to help.
So I wrote a check from GSLC for $100, headed down the hall to the food pantry, and filled three bags of groceries, knowing they had a small kitchenette where they were staying.
After paying for part of the room, I asked the manger if he might call the family and ask if they could come down so that I could give them the groceries. He did.
What a blessing! I met the kindest young mom and the sweetest, most grateful little girl.
I bent down, reached into one of the grocery bags, and said, “Look sweetie, I brought some cookies.” “Thank you. You brought those for me? I love Chips Ahoy,” she replied with a smile that went from ear to ear. I then reached deeper into the bag and said, “Look I brought a big can of peas too,” expecting a different response than I had received when I showed her the cookies. “Thank you, I love peas,” she said. Mom thanked me at least three times in that short time we stood in the lobby.
It was then that another quote came to mind, this one from Jesus.
“Tend my lambs, feed my sheep.”
In the weeks to come, you will hear the stories of how we as members and friends of Good Shepherd tend lambs and feed sheep. You’ll hear the stories of how we are making a difference in our community and the world.
My hope and prayer is that as stories are shared you will prayerfully consider your giving. I am grateful that we tend lambs and feed sheep together as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Pastor Tom Hillertz