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For the Son of man did not come to be served but to serve…
This scripture puts serving at the heart of following and discipleship. Love is not words, it is action. It is not lofty platitudes, it is sacrificial love. True social justice is not pickets, shouting and demeaning the other, it is coming along side people, getting into their story and mining out the image of Christ in them. We don’t talk about substandard housing, we experience living in it. That makes the difference.
It is my final day living in a shack. With some large pledges overnight and some pastors from churches with large mission hearts coming today, we can get there. Our new total is $59, 434! $40,000 is still a big number…but we serve a big God with people who have sacrificial and generous hearts. What was that phrase, don’t tell God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big our God is. Perspective.
My highlight yesterday was having Ms. Andrea McIntosh come sit with me. What a difference that makes! We served with Ms. Andrea last year getting her home rewired and repairing a kitchen that had a major leak rotting most of the floor. Ms. Andrea is a retired teacher who moved down from Philadelphia to take care of her father who eventually died. She now lives in his house which had many issues. Without a car, some medical problems with her knees, and living several miles outside of town, she faces many challenges. Despite this, she has an incredible cookie ministry baking cookies for anyone she can. What made our summer special is her serving at Sonshine Kids Day Camp. The kids fell in love with her and she knew how to dole out sweet and sometimes tough love. Words do not explain the impact she made. That is what service looks like. Sometimes we are the giver and sometimes we are the receiver. Both require grace and humility.
Looking forward to several pastors coming this morning. Rev. David Camphouse from Grace UMC, Rev. Cory Smith and Rev. Charles Cummings from Auburn UMC, Rev. Larry Bryars from Frazer UMC, Rev. Lester Spencer from St. James UMC, Rev. Rusty Hutson from Cornerstone Church and Rev. Robin Wilson from FUMC Opelika. What a fun time!
We’ll keep you posted on how it goes. We are raising funds but also want to encourage groups to come learn and serve with us putting love and discipleship into meaningful action!
Grace and peace!
Just another manic Monday- total is $40,051
Rain bounced off the blue tarped roof of my little shack in the early morning. A mosquito buzzed against my ear and drew blood from my unshielded face creating a nice welt. Somehow an ear plug fell out accentuating the morning routine of dumpster trucks slamming metal and grating iron while cars sloshed water as they passed by. Waiting for the rain to subside, I made a mad dash into Wesley to start my morning routine of getting ready for the day.
After working through Nate all day yesterday, I was disappointed to see all the rain-although we need it. It keeps me from sitting outside and talking with people and putting out the material that tells our story, that tells Ms. Sanford’s story.
Media coverage for the shack last year was awesome. This year, despite several press releases, emails, and tweets to press contacts, we just do not seem newsworthy. Maybe because of recent disasters, maybe because we do not seem new, maybe repairing someone’s home who has few funds does not seem too significant. It is hard to tell. These culminating events have led to a decrease in the fundraising momentum we have experienced the past few years.
This morning I was reading in Mark 8 where Jesus heals a blind man. In previous healings, it came instantaneously and completely. In this situation, Jesus spits and puts his hands on his eyes. The man says he can see people walking around that look like trees. Jesus puts his hand over the man’s eyes again and he is completely restored. Such a curious display of Jesus’ healing power. Did this progression relate to the man’s faith and therefore take two iterations? Was this saying something about the way Jesus heals; that there are times when healing is progressive? Maybe a little bit of both.
What I thought about is that sometimes Jesus provides over time. Some things may not be instantaneous but progressive and over time. As I ponder our fundraising this fall and in light of all the disasters, maybe God will provide more over time, ensuring we have just what we need when we need it. The passage directly after this healing story has Jesus asking his disciples “who do others say that I am” and then asking them “who do you say that I am”. You are the Christ, the Messiah. In that truth is the assurance of who Jesus is, his direct identity and a confidence that God is in the business of caring and providing. Even if the funds are slow (and I am certainly ok if we get a surprising funding surge as we close), we know that we are loving our neighbors and especially the materially poor. We are living out the commands of loving our neighbors and reaching out to those who struggle. We are serving Jesus as we serve with the poor. I believe our faithfulness will be matched and certainly exceeded with God’s faithfulness even if it takes a little longer.
Cheers to a wet day-we needed the rain and I will try not to let it put a damper on our efforts today. Instead, I will think of our families and all those who have struggled when the rain, wind, and water cannot be contained. Prayers for ARM, for Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and more.
Let’s see what happens today!
Grace and peace- lisa
Sunday Oct. 8
Time is slipping by and I realized I had not updated since Friday. Hurricane Nate became the dominant center for most of us in the south east. We adjusted our plan; watched the weather and decided how to stay safe and dry. Tarps were emplaced, the shack strapped to the trailer, display booths taken down, and an action plan developed in case evacuation was required. If the storm had stayed closer to east Alabama, my evacuation plan was into the hard stand building behind me. For now, it is rain and some howling wind forecasted to strengthen for much of the day and then diminish early evening. Why a picture of a staple hammer? It’s a simple tool. Most people may not have this. It has become a necessity for me as I re-staple the plastic that is ripping away from my window which does not have a pane in it. This simple
What preparations did you make? Did it come easy? Were you limited financially or was it an inconvenience? How does your insurance work if your home was damaged? Most of us have a safety net in place for disasters. But thousands of people over the past six weeks have lost their homes, mementos and dreams. For many, FEMA assistance or insurance is unavailable. The quiet, unseen and chronic issue of substandard housing and rehabilitation needs goes unnoticed. There are few safety nets and choices are extremely limited.
That is why I stay in a shack. These all become real for me. I feel it and for a short time live it. I want you feeling it with me so that we “see” our neighbor. Your gift and helping others is deeper than the financial gift. It is coupled with Christian love and the fabric holding us all together.
On a lighter side, I enjoy all the people coming to see me; the kids visiting to paint the shack and learning about serving their neighbors. Meals and coffee flow from friends and neighbors and I am overwhelmed with gratefulness and love.
The Auburn alumni faithful and Ole Miss fans helped us raise over $350 in cash yesterday by getting lemonade and water from “KK”. “KK” goes to church with me and is in elementary school. Wanting to help raise money for our families, she set up a free lemonade and water stand. It was a great success and she was so excited to serve in this way.
Being warm, safe, and dry in our homes is a given until something happens. Your gift is ensuring our seniors, single parent moms, and small families have a safety net. Your gift is matched with some incredible volunteers and co laborers helping make a tangible difference and extend Christ’s love!
Tropical Storm Nate now lingers as an ominous rain event and putting another twist on living in the shack. Many have asked me what I will do. My first thoughts go to, what will our families do? How will they weather the storm? If he comes through as a TS, then I stay with it, stay in the shack and weather it out. If he comes in as a hurricane, knowing my shelter is not safe, I will evacuate into a hardstand building. But, I am here. This is what it means to empathize and know what people with substandard housing, desperate for repairs that make their home warm, safe, and dry go through.
We started early yesterday. An extremely committed group of high school students from Auburn UMC came out at 7:20am. They are discipleship groups meeting weekly at this time to deepen their walk and faith. Coming out to the shack, we talked about faith, the gospel, and Jesus’ directives to serve with the poor and love our neighbor. I was inspired by them!
Our Bible study group came at 11:00 am and we are studying a book called, When Helping Hurts. We discussed the dangers from a biblical framework of when we match a need with the wrong kind of aid. How we can be paternalistic and have attitudes of superiority over the poor. These conversations continue to help us treat others like friends, not projects and to help us meet our own need to be needed.
Visitors for the day included Rev. Jeremy Pridgeon from FUMC Montgomery, Rev. Olivia Poole Reneau from Mt. Zion UMC, Rev. Steve Reneau from Trinity UMC Phenix City, Bishop David Graves, Rev. Elizabeth Whatley from Tuskegee UMC, Mrs. Dara Hosey-chair of our board, Mr. David Mashburn- ARM board, and Mr. Davis Lipscomb who stayed overnight in the guest shack.
In the afternoon, we had a group of young and older elementary students come out after school and visit the shack. They asked such good questions and pointed out all the problems with my little house. They seemed to take in that they could help others in need and wanted to help. They are going to raise enough change as a class to buy a new commode-$75! Really cool!!!! I was touched and encouraged. And then….we got to see the Budweiser Clydesdales!!!!!
As the evening closed, the Auburn Wesley Foundation invited me to eat with them and share why I have been camped out on their lawn and what ARM is doing. AU Wesley helped get ARM going and the inspiration behind our work. I love telling them how they are the ones that got this all started!
Despite it being Thursday night and a home game, it was surprisingly quiet and we slept well. No one ripped up my sign or tore anything up. All in all-restful. Grateful for what we have raised and the outpouring of love!
Looking forward to Day 3 and our Cardboard Box City tonight!