While it is not practiced as regularly as it should be, the Bible challenges us to do good in our community as a way to live worthy of the good news (the gospel).
Our church, City Church Lawrence (CCL) ,has been exploring ways we can grow in this area. Late last year, we signed up to be a Family Promise support church with Christmas week being our first experience in this role.
Family Promise (FP) is a ministry which works to help homeless families break out of homelessness. Here in Lawrence, they typically have 3-5 families working through a 5-6-week initial transition process at any one time. During the day, FP helps the families learn skills and find jobs so they can transition to functioning independently in our community. FP has a network of host churches which provide those going through the program with a weeks’ worth of lodging and meals at their church. The support church’s role is to assist the host church with providing evening meals. CCL is assisting Vintage Church.
My wife Cathy and I and another family provided the meal for Christmas Eve. Cathy and I brought over our traditional Christmas Eve supper: chili and cinnamon rolls, as well as some fruit and vegetables. Our other family brought spaghetti and more.
Family Promise has 4 families in the program’s “rotation” at the moment. As it was Christmas Eve, we recognized that some of the group may have had other plans for the evening. Sure enough, this proved to be more true than we expected.
We ate and talked with one mom and her Dad, who was visiting from Hutchinson. Her husband and kids were seeing other family for the evening. She has 4 children, mostly teen agers. We did not see them as they were spending time with their father. Another mom came through briefly and a third mom and her children we saw only as we were preparing to leave at 8:00 with our meal and host duties done.
Despite this light duty with respect to providing meals to those in the program, we enjoyed not only time with our fellow CCL host family but the evening also provided two additional interactions.
First we got to spend some time with the pastor of Vintage Church Deacon Godsey and his wife and son who enjoyed the meal we brought between the conclusion of the church’s Christmas Evening service and another engagement of the evening that followed. Part of doing good in the City is partnering with others who are seeking to do the same.
Second we got to spend some time with a mom, Leila, who went through FP’s program two years ago when she was at a time of need in seeking to provide for herself and 4 children while between jobs. She is now on her feet, attending Vintage Church and a part of the church’s ministry with FP. Through our discussion we were able to learn a lot about the benefits of the program from one who has been through it. This included learning to not expect too much interaction during these meal times as those going through the program are often tired and needing to put their kids down for the night. While Leila has gone through several jobs, she currently driving a concrete truck for nearly double the wages of her previous jobs and seems to have a good support network at Vintage Church.
We left most of the unconsumed food at the church for later in the week.
It was a good first experience and we look forward to next time. Due to the number of churches FP has in the program, Vintage Church and CCL will host another new set of families approx. four times a year.