Thursday, December 8, 2011

RACK day 7 ~ biggest one

I am not quite sure how to title this post.  It is about our 7th RACK and it was the "largest" of all our RACKs, but it has turned into so much more.  Before I dive in, I will give some background.  This is the RACK that I have been so excited about.  We decided to "adopt" a family from our church.  I thought long and hard about this.  I enjoy giving to perfect strangers (it is so unexpected for them!), but I view our church as our family.  I love our church family.  They have been there for me in so many ways exactly like (or more so) as a biological family.  There is bond between us that we share because we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  One of the things that hooked me on committing to our church was their mid-week prayer meeting.  Granted, the attendance is not what I would love to see, but those that are there are involved in something far beyond themselves.  To a casual observer, it probably doesn't look like much.  But to me, even when I had first started attending, I see so much more.  I see men, women and children taking time out of their week to come together to share in the joys and burdens of others.  Our pastor leads us in a short devotional each week and then we go over our prayer guide (simply a sheet of paper with praises and requests given to our church staff throughout the week).  We then have a time for any updates and any new requests.  We then break up into small groups (men with men and women with women usually) and spend time praying.  A few men that attend will physically get down on their knees while they pray.  Again, it may not seem like much, but there is something so powerful happening there.
First, I am always keenly aware that in many, many countries around the world to meet like this is simply not possible.  To be found meeting this way to speak of God (not a god, but the One True God, our Lord Jesus Christ) is punishable by jail (sometimes lifelong) or even death.  I am so very blessed to live in a country where I have no fear of such things.
Second, it is a much more personal, intimate setting.  While you may not have the opportunity (or feel comfortable) to share a personal request on a Sunday morning or night with the entire congregation, here you have a small group of believers dedicated to lifting each other before the throne of God.  There is nothing more powerful one believer can do for another.  Never lose sight of that!
Third, attending this meeting allows me to learn of practical ways to help each other out.  Sometimes it is sending a card or note in the mail to someone that may need encouragement.  Sometimes it is passing on clothing to a family with children that has suffered a tragedy or is simply having a hard time making ends meet.  Sometimes it is taking a meal to a family that is struggling with health issues or is simply in one of those stages in life when things can seem overwhelming.  It can be so many things.
This mid-week meeting embodies the spirit of a church family.  In a family there are good times and difficult times.  I certainly do not always agree with everyone in our family and there can be hurt feelings at times.  However, that is part of what makes us family.  We stick together, we work it out, we ask for forgiveness and above all, we never stop loving each other.  Because of that, I wanted to be sure to reach out to our church family in a practical way while we did our RACK.  Due to the size of our church, I cannot possibly be aware of every family that may need encouragement or that is struggling.  For this I enlisted our pastors' help.  I asked them if they could possibly think of a family that was either needing encouragement or was simply struggling with physical needs.  I asked that not only our family remain anonymous, but that we not even know who we were "adopting".  Withing 24 hours they got back to me with some basic info.  I was thrilled and started working to put things together.  What we ended up doing was providing gift cards (one for groceries, one for gas and one for a local restaurant), chocolates (yes, I have to pass on my adoration of quality chocolates!) and a Christmas dinner (a ham, biscuits, green beans, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and whipped topping) for the parents and for the child some little gifts and a gift card to pick out something special at the store.  My plan was to go early to church one Sunday and pass everything onto the pastors and let them pass it on to our family.  Then this Sunday my daughter was rather ill and I was stuck at home.  I had already burdened my dear husband with passing out all the Christmas cards/letters that I had gotten done by that point, so I didn't want to add anything more.  I figured that maybe we could try for next Sunday.  I was a bit disappointed, but it is what it is.  My husband and I talked about it more and he suggested that maybe I could just take it to the church office and maybe have them call the family and they could come pick it up.  I wasn't sure if it would work or not, so I called the office and spoke to our wonderful secretary.  She offered something even better.  She stated that she could take the gifts right to this family's home for us that evening!  Yes!!
When we took everything to the church office, I was about to just bubble over with joy.  I was so excited!  The next morning I checked my facebook account to discover this note on my wall, "We were RACKed today . . . This was such a blessing because we really have no family outside of our church family.  Being RACKed made us feel like we belong and are loved as a family.  Christmas can be a very lonely time for those with no family.  Many a joyful tear has been and will be shed over this."  Yup, not only did I know the family, but they were on facebook with me and following my blog posts about our whole RACK thing.  (I guess if I really wanted to stay anonymous I probably shouldn't be blogging the whole thing!)
This led me to really think and ponder for a bit.  Although I was disappointed about not remaining anonymous, I feel that God had His hand in all of it.  I'll give a little more background to explain.
Last November I was blessed to be living in a huge, beautiful farm house (one of these days I will blog about how God has provided in miraculous ways for my little family).  I was a single mom with two children trying to make ends meet.  I had moved into the house during the summer for what was supposed to be a short term stay until I could find something else.  The couple renting me the house told me that no one could afford to live there in the winter due to the house being old and large and it could be near impossible to keep heated.  My landlord had decided to install a wood burner to help offset the costs.  Sounds great right?  Except that I was a single mom that knew nothing about chopping wood.  Yeah, wood is needed to run a wood burner!  My wonderful church family stepped in for me yet again.  We had a "wood cutting party" at our house.  People came out of the woodwork (forgive the pun) to spend a cold day working exceptionally hard chopping and splitting enough wood to get me through the winter.  It was an amazing day of blessing!  I knew most of the people that came to my house that day except for one family.  They were still new to the church, but they were anxious to minister in any way they could.  I was so blessed by their presence.  Here they volunteered their time to come help out someone they didn't even know.  And this wasn't simply sending a card.  This was hard, difficult and demanding work in the middle of a cold November in Ohio.
Well, guess what!  This same family is the one that we ended up adopting.  Isn't God just so cool?  I love the way He works.  When I realized that I knew the family, I sent an email requesting their permission to blog about this particular RACK.  The email that was sent back pretty much sums up the beauty of a church family.    I will share some excerpts here:  "Please feel free to share this in your blog. There is no shame in perfect love and love is perfected through Christ Jesus and His directions through us.
I understand how your intentions to keep this in secret have caused you some angst. However, I truly feel His glory was in your heart and you wanted nothing more than to do His works with a humble and sincere love in submission to His will.
I think the world should have a clear vision of how we care for one another as one in the same body. There is so much in-fighting and back biting within the confines of American churches we need to make a stand to show the truth of how we should operate and what it is to follow Christ.The fellowship of the saints is one of the key factors that intrigues and allures the hearts of man into the union with the Creator. . . . It is amazing how God works and he brought our two families together like this. . . . Thank you for opening your heart to us, for the wonderful gifts and more so for loving the Lord. We feel so blessed to be loved by your family, by Camden and to be side by side in this time as we await the return of our Savior."
I don't even know what else I can say.  Here we are out to try to bless others, and I feel more blessed in return.  I am at a loss for words as to how God has worked.  This, this is why He calls us to be united with a community of believers.  This is God at work in the hearts of those that love Him and seek to honor Him.  This is love.

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