Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Contagious Generosity

I’d like to tell you a story. Because it took me completely by surprise and just goes to show you what kind of effect All Saints can have in the lives of others.

For the last week, All Saints has been assisting a man, his wife, and young son at Dayspring. He knocked on our back door last week and asked for someone to go into the church and pray with him before he boarded the bus to go to a job interview.

He had been looking for assistance in finding a place to live. A few of his children had to be housed in separate shelters around the city and he was trying to get them under one roof. We took one daughter and her young son to the Greyhound station one afternoon so that she could stay with her aunt outside of Chicago.

He found a place to live but had absolutely nothing: blankets, beds, furniture, or food. The utilities had to be turned on. He went through several assistance agencies and managed to get everything but the gas turned on. And we were able to help him pay for that through the rector’s discretionary fund.

The tuckpointing crew noticed this gentleman’s frequent visits to the church. They watched from the scaffolding as he and his four-year old son went back and forth between the church and Dayspring. They saw how we hustled everyone into a car to get them to the Greyhound station twenty minutes before the bus was to leave. They commented on how we took the man and his son to McDonald’s because they had missed lunch at the shelter while he was looking for a place to live.

But here’s the best part of the story.

Unbeknownst to us, one of the men on the crew drove this gentleman to the gas company. When I heard about that from the foreman, I went over to thank him. He said, “Well, I really wasn’t doing anything and you folks had been helping him out—he’s a nice guy who’s just going through a rough time.”

Another member of the crew brought in blankets, towels, pillows and some of his son’s old hats for the four-year old boy and asked me to get them to him. He said, “It looks like the church is really trying to help them out and we had these things just laying around the house.”

He even gave me a blanket to give to another man at Dayspring and his toddler who he saw walking across the parking lot. He said the blanket had been his daughter’s when she was that age and maybe she could use it.

There has been a lot of talk about stewardship lately and the reasons that we should give.

But what a profound revelation to learn firsthand the effect that All Saints and its ministry can have on perfect strangers who are around for a few short weeks!

— Paul Greatbatch

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