It is underwhelming to go where love is supposed to be, but love is not there.
It is disturbing to realize that you can look for love in all of the wrong places, only to prove that love is actually not there either.
One day, love poked it’s head significantly high above the masses of people everywhere and looked around, but the people turned their heads away...
As this story unfolds, I’ll let you decide whether love is defined and indeed relevant among those proclaiming to hold her keys.
A couple of years ago, we went to the area where my wife got a start to her professional career after completing university. As we came from the airport, we stopped at a European McDonald’s restaurant - “My treat”, proclaimed our hostess.
Love in action reveals its true self to those open to its truth. I could see that Pastor Nadia (our hostess) was on the same page.
This trip was still in it’s infancy as we rolled into a forested village in the beautiful country of Latvia. The landscape and the friendly treatment we received added to the joy of realizing the benefits of giving lovingly, with a cheerful attitude.
Many truths of scripture with regards of what Jesus thought and taught about love, had been circling within my mind.
I was ready to “support change” in terms of addressing the systematic, often traditional approach to the collection process which occurs in churches. Over and over again, I would think about, and then let others hear, “When there are present needs of an individual or family during a church service, why on earth do we allow the ones whom we say that we love - go away empty-handed? Could not more be done for the needy?”
After all, our example comes right from our leaders. As an offering is received, we are told to sow and that we will receive.
Meanwhile, Jesus said that it is better to give than it is to receive.
I felt that it was reprehensible to merely offer a needy person prayers for financial blessings, along with an “I love you” and let them walk away...
Isn’t this the very chance to seize the moment? Can our giving be directed to them?
I learned more about my new friend (Pastor Nadia) and her family, that week. The heartfelt love that they shared with everyone in their community was a blessing to experience.
As Sunday approached, a guitar was handed to me. It was the type of guitar that required attention. The strings were set very high off the fret board and it was very old with a missing string. It was challenging and comforting to play it (as a guitar lover) and rehearse the songs I would soon be playing. I was asked to lead worship and to give the message. Give the message? Wow, have I got a message to share, I thought...
On Sunday, the worship songs were presented in English.
I went right into the message with a Latvian translator (Nadia’s daughter). She did an amazing job! The message was everything I wanted it to be and everything I thought that God would be pleased with. Was this enough?
When we do things and don’t change the things we should, but simply follow - What kind of statement are we making?
The only thing missing from my message was fitting in a practical response to address the needs of anyone present, that very day!
Good thing my wife is brilliant. She turned to me as I began to sit down (following the message). She said something simple and profound, “The offering is going to be taken... Now is the time to give”.
What are you saying? I was really only expecting to hear perhaps a kind or reassuring comment regarding what was just spoken to the congregation. “Now is the time, let’s give”, she repeated.
Wow, things clicked quickly and I was off like stone flung from a slingshot. I had not seen before demonstrated what I was about to do.
Pastor Nadia gave me approval to arrange an offering/giving - offering. Next, I addressed the congregants, so that they would be aware of the direction that the intended offering was going to take. After the collection, some of the funds were redistributed to about 5 people, with an amount left over, for the needs of the church.
There was much joy and a feeling of celebration after this event, along with a sense of love which was living, vibrant and real. I found where real love was supposed to be.
Later that evening, I learned that the elderly which benefitted that day were often living month after month on next to nothing. They love God and manage to do without many necessities. Hearing this made me feel that we really did God’s will - “Give to the stranger, and care for the poor, the fatherless and the widows in their affliction”.
Volunteering and giving to Freedom City reaches out to the needs of the vulnerable citizens of St. Jamestown in Toronto’s downtown -
God’s love is in action and is being demonstrated by example.
Dave Slater, Founder and Coach
Chosen Productions, Toronto
July 16, 2020