Inspiring Stories and Results from the Challenge
When it comes to the adage ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive,’ Saint John the Baptist Orthodox Church practices what it preaches. We put into practice the JOY OF GIVING! We have learned the understanding that WE ARE BLESSED SO THAT WE BLESS OTHERS, so that we share our blessings with others less fortunate! This is the spirit of our Church and we want to cultivate this in all our members.
We kicked off the “GOOD AND FAITHFUL STEWARD CHALLENGE” at the beginning of April 2022 and have completed its first phase. We gave monetary gifts to 20 families in our community and asked them to glorify God by reaching out to people or organizations in need, and to share God’s love in a concrete way with these people. We’ve gotten back a number of responses and are getting an idea of how we have glorified God! We also have seen how families have seriously discussed how they can help others and even shared with friends about this great Challenge. It’s generating a lot of thoughtful discussion, reflection, prayer, and action!
Here are a few of the responses we’ve received from this Challenge:
- I decided to purchase grocery gift cards from our locate grocery store and I gave one to each of the families that are in need. One of the recipients responded: “Your blessing arrived just at the right time. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Food insecurity is a very frightening thing. I used the card to buy food. Your kindness and generosity will never be forgotten. Today I am a little happier knowing there are people around me who are caring and sharing.”
- We gave to a local family that we know was having difficulties and mental health issues in their home.
- When we first received the monetary gift, we considered that there are many lonely, sick, in hospitals or hospice, mentally ill or people in jail or homeless. So many obstacles – COVID, laws/permits. We want to help the poor, the marginalized, the people who are looked down upon – people Jesus helped and sought out. This family in Seaside is led by an African American grandmother and deaf daughter with 5 children. This lady helps others who are facing discrimination and eviction, hunger and/or homelessness. She’s not perfect, but in spite of her challenges, she still goes on to help others. This makes me realize there is much more I could do. Especially since God has blessed me so abundantly and has never forgotten me even in my most lonely, desperate days. He has always been faithful and generous to me. Love that never fails and is for everyone.
- It was difficult to decide, since the money came from the church, but I feel good about the direction I took. I purchased ingredients to bake goodies for a family – father, mother, and daughter - that all fight cancer, and I know they were too sick to bake for Easter.
- We included our children and made school supply kits for IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) as part of the Take action program: https://iocc.org/take-action/assemble-emergency-kits/school-kits. We shopped together and the kids helped to pack the bags. The kids and I shopped for the items and then we packaged them as a family. Then we mailed the kits to IOCC. It gave us an opportunity to explain to our kids that we are helping other children that don't have paper and art supplies. (I think this resonated because they draw so many pictures each day!)
- I gave a cash gift to a lady where I eat breakfast who told me she lost her house and didn’t know how she was going to make it. She feared possibly living in her car. I was so glad to help someone in need.
- I offered the money as a gift in cash to a friend who lives in the area, who is in need and who doesn’t have much money to live on. She was very appreciative and it felt good to help.
- I purchased large print and giant bibles at thrift stores. I then visited and gave the bibles to elderly in retirement communities, assisted living and nursing homes. To me it’s all about helping those who are sick, frightened, feeling abandoned, often alone facing an ending to life without access to a church, minister, priest or chaplain.
- I sent the donation to an Ukrainian orphanage house. I was happy to help and they were very grateful for this help.
- I gave a cash gift to a couple that has financial difficulties and mental issues. They were thankful and touched by the church offering.
Our family had a hard time deciding what to do with the money. The challenge was challenging because we wished to multiply it through some effort of ours and to put it to work in the best possible way. We prayed about it and, in the end, given the time constraint, we decided to add to it ourselves. We offered it as support to a needy family dealing with a serious health issue and loss of job/ income. The need was much bigger than our gift but we felt blessed to be able to connect to this family in this special way. We are grateful for the challenge for it gave us the reminder and the opportunity to give sacrificially.