I suppose it is a continuation of a thought I had a year ago or so. I had met someone locally who was working in the service industry and she told me of the difficulties she was having and how rarely she could take days off, much less a vacation without the real threat of losing her job. She was not connected to any church, using Sunday to play catch-up to the work at home that went undone during the six days she was working. She spoke of how she would like to take a trip with her Mom and her two kids to Gatlinburg but didn’t see any way possible.
Why not raise money for her and with her boss’ consent, provide her funds for the trip and to cover the cost of lost wages, ensuring that she would have a job to come back to? The gift would come from the church as part of our Centennial Celebration and we would offer it simply as a gift of grace and an acknowledgement of her service to the community. Although I shared the idea with others, I didn’t pursue it any further. I was thinking that maybe once a year we could select someone from the community and make their life better with such a gift of grace.
The thought surfaced again a couple of weeks ago when I noticed a server at a fast-food restaurant displaying some incredible people skills. Part-time, minimum-wage job, after school, not looking to get rich and yet, what if, one night while at work, he/she was handed an envelope with a small cash amount or a gift card from the church, expressing our thanks for him/her being a difference maker in people’s lives? And what if, we asked the church to nominate someone they have observed with such qualities, and that each month, we draw a name and surprise that individual with a gift of grace?
Well, a little while ago, in a search for inspiration for this column, I picked up an older issue of The Christian Century and there was a story about Pathway Church in Wichita, Kansas who opted this past Easter to forego the money they usually would have spent promoting its Easter Sunday Service through mailings and TV ads and instead spend the $22,000 to help families pay off medical debts. Each of the 1,600 families who had their debt liquidated received this note: “We’re Pathway Church, we may never meet you. But as an act of kindness in the name of Jesus Christ your debt has been forgiven.” Using RIP Medical, an organization that abolishes debt by buying it at pennies on the dollar, the church’s investment of $22,000 alleviated $2.2 million in debt.
Can you imagine receiving a card with that note enclosed? Some may question that this is simply the Church trying to buy goodwill and hoping to attract some of those 1,600 families. Pathway Church would beg to differ. Granted, hearing positive news about a church is a rare thing these days. But I am proud of this church and its outreach not only out into the community but also out into the world. Who would you nominate?
See you Sunday!