Small Things

This is an article I wrote which will be appearing in the June Ambassador, the denominational magazine for the AFLC (Association of Free Lutheran Churches).  I would be interested to hear from other authors and readers about what their churches are doing to reach out to the community during the pandemic.

When I saw the notice in the May Ambassador requesting articles about what our churches are doing to help the community during the pandemic, I felt a little depressed. I wish I could say that here at St. Paul’s in Leitersburg, we are doing great things for the Lord. However, we’re small and have many elderly members, so our abilities are limited. Then I realized our size and our resources don’t matter – the Bible tells us that even small things can be used in a big way by God. We just have to be willing to give what we have, like the little boy with his loaves and fishes.

So here are some small things we have been doing at St. Paul’s:

  • We have a little free library. The emails I get as a steward of the library mentioned that many were removing books from their libraries, due to the fear of passing infection by books being borrowed and then returned or replaced by many people. Some stewards were turning their libraries into “blessing boxes” by filling them with paper goods or other needed supplies. We decided to put canned and boxed food in ours, posting a note to “Take What You Need.”
  • This past year we started a Youth Ministry for the teens who reside at a local mental health facility. Due to social distancing we are unable to see them, or even send them packages. Instead we encouraged our members to send notes and cards, asking for their prayer requests and telling them we loved and cared for them. We are also preparing a “goodie basket” of snacks for the staff.
  • A number of our members carry “blessing bags” of food, a small Bible and needed hygienic supplies to give out to the homeless we see as we run our daily errands. I find that I am giving out even more than usual right now.
  • We could not serve our scheduled meal at the local mission last month. However, we were able to prepare a dinner and drop it off.
  • One of our small discipleship groups is collecting plastic bags (the kind you get in the grocery store) so that they can weave them into mats to give out to the homeless.
  • Of course, we are trying to stay in touch and encourage our own members who are shut-in through cards and calls, and our prayer team is still active and taking requests, although not meeting in person.

I’m sure there are many other churches, community groups and individuals who are doing “little” things to help others. They may not seem like much in the face of a global problem, but they mean the world to each person they touch. The Gospel, after all, is spread by one person speaking to another. So don’t be discouraged. Do the small things you can, and trust God to use them.

” Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Zechariah 4:10 (New Living Translation)

How It Works–The Fanning the Flame Process, Part 2

Continued from yesterday …..

We were already serving meals at a local mission in partnership with another AFLC congregation.  A hospitality team formed to continue that ministry and begin adding monthly collections to help other caring ministries —everything from the local crisis pregnancy center to a women’s ministry in India.  Some of us began making “blessing bags” of supplies for the homeless and carrying them in our cars to hand out.  We were on the right track, but we still didn’t have a congregational ministry that was uniquely ours.

About this time, our daughter, Beth, went to work at Brook Lane, a nonprofit organization that offers mental heal services.  Beth has the gift of mercy, and a passion for children.  At Brook Lane she began working as a direct caregiver to adolescent girls in their residential facility.  Many of these girls are wards of the state and live at Brook Lane due to a history of neglect or abuse.  Some leave fairly quickly to live with foster families, some return to their own homes, but many are there for quite a while.

The education program includes certified special education teachers, behavioral specialists, clinical social workers and nurses.  Related services offered are psychiatry, psychology, art therapy, addictions counseling, family therapy and speech/language therapy.  Part of Beth’s job was to take the teens in her care to activities in the area — the YMCA, the local park, the movies and so on.  Our church had started a Little Free Library and we are just a few miles from Brook Lane.  I suggested that she bring her charges over for books.

stay tuned for the final section tomorrow ……

The Lutheran Ladies Changing Their Environment

Little Free Library, Womens Group and Rob (maker)In 2016 a couple of ladies from St. Paul’s Free Lutheran Church in Leitersburg decided to start a blog:  The Lutheran Ladies Connection.  About a year into their blogging adventure, they became book reviewers for B&H Publishing. In return for posting unbiased reviews on their blog, the B&H website, and Amazon.com. they received free Christian books.  As the pile of books grew larger, one of the ladies asked, “What should we do with all of them?”  Starting a Little Free Library seemed to be the obvious answer.

Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that builds community and encourages reading, by creating neighborhood book exchanges around the world.  Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds. At a Little Free Library you may take a book, trade a book or bring a book.  They are sponsored by organizations or individuals.  To learn more visit their website www.littlefreelibrary.org.

The grand opening of the Little Free Library of Leitersburg was celebrated by St. Paul’s on July 28th with an ice cream social and free drawing to win a variety of books donated by the Lutheran Ladies. Members of the church and community attended to see the library unveiled.

Pictured are library builder, Rob Waltz, along with the Lutheran Ladies (from left to right):  Beth Ann Deardorff, Joan Culler and Michele Edgel.