Friday, July 29, 2011

Caring Together

Good morning!  It's a little after 7 a.m. (Friday) right now.  I've been up since just after 6, walked to the store to get something for breakfast and am now back at mom and dad's apartment.  Don't know when I'll get this blogpost published, but I'll at least get a start.

Early yesterday morning I got a call from a person in need.  I've promised to connect with this person when I get back to the Cokato area and she, together with other people in need, has been on my mind.  How can we best serve those in need?  How can we best help?

Our community has done a good job of providing places where people can go to get a few basic needs met.  We have seen the Lord at work as believers were inspired to organize a food shelf and a thrift store.  Both of these have good visibility in our little town and are able to serve a good number of people.

Needs, however, extend far beyond just food and clothing.  This is true both in the realm of felt needs (things I think I need) and real needs (things that are absolutely necessary for ongoing physical life).  Though, in a spiritual sense, God encourages us to be content with food and clothing alone, it hardly seems fair that we ought to close our hearts to those who those who aren't starving or naked.  All of us could make a longer list of things we believe are needs (as opposed to mere wishes or wants) in the place and climate where we live.
  • What do you think you need?  
  • Will you extend the same care to your neighbor? 
The person who phoned me early yesterday morning was not calling about food or clothing.  Food and clothing are relatively inexpensive.  Paying a car repair bill is not.  Neither are things like rent or mortgage payments.  And medical bills?  Those can be bank breakers for almost anyone.  It's enough to make us hide away so people don't ask us for help.  It's enough to make us put up walls, harden our hearts, screen our calls.

I've been thinking about this a lot for a long time.  Over the years we have assisted so many who are in crisis, and others who seem to move from one crisis to another on a daily or monthly basis.  What's the best way to help?  How can we do this together instead of dumping off our responsibility on someone else?

I was thinking about this as I drove from Hayward to North Heights yesterday, and then, at the end of our meetings, I cornered the pastor whose main area of ministry is "Community Care."  I was hoping that perhaps they may have some ideas or help for us as we in Cokato try to serve in our community.  I was not disappointed.

Pastor Mindy talked with me for awhile about how they are organized to meet needs.  She then gave me a brochure for North Heights' Community Care area.  Her area of accountability involves training and supervising dozens of volunteer ministers and some staff people who facilitate healing and prayer ministries, baptisms, communion and weddings and funerals, grief support, visitation and counseling, and, finally, about 14 volunteers who they call the "care team."  These men and women work and pray together to help people find the resources they need, no matter what the need may be.

I'm hoping we can learn from Pastor Mindy Bak and this "Community Care" group.  I think we could be less stressed about helping our neighbors if we did get some training and knew that we're not just out there helping someone alone.  Perhaps we can send a small group to North Heights to be trained.

Here's what the brochure says about the Care Team:
Assistance in various forms is available to [those] in crisis.  We can refer you to resources throughout the community as well as connect you with resources within the body.  An appointment with the Care Team can transform your breaking point into God's point for offering hope, help and healing.  Applications for financial assistance are individually evaluated and follow predetermined guidelines.  Contributions can be made through the offering plate by noting "Crisis Fund" on the memo line of a check or on an envelope.  Your gifts make a real difference in the midst of life crisis.  Crown Ministries offers additional help with financial management (see adult classes).
Caring and praying TOGETHER -- that's the best thing we can do.

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