– by Pastor James
Years ago my grandfather was out of work and freezing, traveling up through Oregon. He believed the warm winter coat and services he got from The Salvation Army saved his life… which means in a very real way, I’m only here today because of God’s kindness through The Salvation Army organization. Growing up, my dad would always have us put our change into the bell ringers outside stores, reminding us that we were “paying for Grandpa’s coat”. It also correlated for me as a young Christian with Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:
“‘I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me…’ The righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
The Salvation Army has always been about this practical, simple-yet-essential aid, particularly in urban centers like Seattle. Sadly, this year there were far less bell ringers out there due to unfounded complaints in the greater Seattle area – you can read the story here – so the bottom line is that they’ve brought in substantially less money, (and they’re the world’s largest social services provider). Other supporters have stopped donating for what seems like self-image. In fact, the difficulties of operating in the urban center has pushed them up North (closer to our church) in the Shoreline area. It’s disheartening to see politics and other factors seek to diminish this bright light of service and love in our region.
At Refuge, our church’s core values include “transforming communities” and “sacrificial giving”. You can read more about our values here. As many of us usher in a new year with thanksgiving, it seemed appropriate to highlight the “giving” part alongside our thanks. In addition to my family’s giving to our local church and other charitable endeavors, we’re going to dig a little deeper and seek to be part of what makes up the difference for the Salvation Army this year. I’ve personally invited our members to consider it as well, and our neighboring friends and brothers and sisters in Christ are welcome to join in. You can give here: https://secure20.salvationarmy.org/donation.jsp
Me? I just gotta pay for Grandpa’s coat.
Also, I invite ALL believers to pray for the Salvation Army… but ALSO pray for the hard hearts of those who are seeking – for various reasons – to block the assistance they provide. They need the healing power of Christ like my Grandfather needed clothing. Jesus cautions hearts like this in Matthew 25: “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And as Jesus elaborates, that is not a healthy place for any heart to be found lingering in.
I hope 2019 finishes with some true touches of joy and warmth for all our members, and my prayers go out for any who need it. Have a truly Happy New Year, and may God bless 2020.