Story. We all love a good story. My son, Owen, will sit for hours and listen to my husband or me reminisce about our childhoods or college days. He loves to hear stories.
People go to movies, watch television, and read novels for story. Love stories particularly capture our attention. Consider all the recent Twilight and Hunger Games craze– one girl, two boys, who will she pick? Love plus the success of an underdog drives us to read more and watch more.
We love story.
We love story because we were created by God to innately love story.
Story captures our hearts, helps us believe we too can conquer our fears or achieve our dreams.
Story gives us hope.
We hear of one person overcoming the odds or seeing a miracle, and we begin to believe “there’s hope for us too.”
I read a lot of story – mostly nonfiction “story.” I love the story of those who have taken great risk or demonstrated great boldness for the gospel. That’s why I love 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. Jen Hatmaker’s book details how someone ordinary – someone just like me – changed her life for His glory.
But, amazing stories aren’t just lived on movie screens and book pages. Look around you. People in your community or church are doing the very thing Jen is doing: Living radically to make a difference, giving God all the glory.
Being the hands and feet of Jesus.
I met Emily when she was in high school. I was her cabin leader at our church’s youth retreat. Emily is now a children’s pastor at City Soul Church in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and a student at Ohio University. Her love of Christ and people pours from her.
I met Andrew last fall. He and Emily started a daily (now weekly) vlog (video blog) to raise awareness about homelessness in our area. Andrew is a talented videographer and video editor, so it was natural for them to choose vlog over blog. Andrew is also a talented musician who plays in our praise band at church.
Emily and Andrew met at Passion 2011. (See? Romance! You’re warming to the story already:) It’s a story of…he texted her, she texted him, they were just friends, then bam! Dating. I wish you could hear them tell the story complete with grins and blushing.
Andrew said after they returned home from Passion, he woke up to a text from Emily that said, “I miss Passion already.” Two months later they built a snowman together and the rest is history.
Fast forward to Fall 2012. Emily and Andrew begin to become more aware of homelessness in both Parkersburg, WV, and Marietta, OH. Men and women holding signs at major intersections. “Homeless – Need Help” written on cardboard.
You’ve seen these individuals before. My heart always breaks as I roll down my window and hand them $5, but I then progress through the intersection, park, buy groceries at Wal-mart, and head back to my cozy home filled with clothing and lots of stuff.
My broken heart forgotten. The person holding the sign forgotten.
For Emily and Andrew, tossing money out the window as they passed simply wasn’t enough. They wanted to do more. They felt God calling them to more.
So, they acted. Notice, they didn’t ask for the church’s permission or launch an official ministry with a fancy logo. They decided to be the hands and feet that God calls each of us to be.
Emily and Andrew began cleaning out closets, accepting donations, and purchasing canned food. They went to the homeless – at intersections, under bridges, on the street. In talking with these men and women, they discovered how these individuals ended up homeless and how they could help.
Emily made flyers and distributed them near shelters and on the street, letting the homeless know she and Andrew would be in the local Kmart’s parking lot with food and clothing. They loaded the truck at Andrew’s house, went to Kmart, and gave food and clothing to those that came.
At that distribution, Emily met a man named John who lives under a bridge. A few months later, they visited John there, so he share how he became homeless.
I pray you listen to John’s story. We can all identify with John. Questioning God – not understanding His ways. Yet, John is thankful for what he does have. Wow.
Story. Emily and Andrew’s Story. John’s Story. Your Story. We’re all part of God’s awesome story.
What’s your part in His story? What’s God calling you to do? How can you be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth?
I love the verse Emily quotes in the vlog: 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35
Indeed, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Always.
They have inspired me. I pray they inspire you.