Once a month we go out as a church and we call it “Love Louisville.” We also do an annual event that is city-wide with the same name (check out: www.lovelouisville.org for more info).
As a follow up to Christmas, we recently did what we called: “Winter Warm Outreach.” We collected new or gently used coats, hats, gloves and scarfs for men, women and children. We worked with Starbucks and they donated coffee and hot chocolate along with freshly baked muffins.
We often do other types of outreaches like bottled water giveaways, business blast where we take goodie bags to area workers, or gas buy-downs where we give out $2 bills at area gas stations and wash people’s wind shields for free. We still do those, but recently God has given me a heart to reach out more to the poor, the abused, the lonely, the neglected. So every month we have been very deliberate about doing outreaches that touch those people. So off we go to “Winter Warm.”
We drove to one of the poorest areas in Louisville and set up our giveaway in the area park adjacent to the projects. While people set up, a couple of guys and I started knocking on doors to invite people. “We’ve got FREE coats, hats, gloves for you and your kids along with hot chocolate” and people came in below freezing temperatures because of love. Up to 100 people loved, served, clothed, conversations with, thanks given, prayers prayed.
But there was one person I’ll never forget. Her name was Sellina. I was walking back from knocking on doors when I met her. She was in her car getting ready to take off when I walked up to the window and told her about the giveaway in the park. She said, “I thought about coming over, but I didn’t want to take away from other people who needed it more than me.” And then to my surprise she pulled out a $5 bill and insisted I take it to put in our offering for outreach. I normally don’t take any kind of donations because we don’t want people to think there are any strings attached to our outreach. But she was insistent and started to tear up as she said, “Please, please take this and put it toward your outreach.”
She placed the $5 bill in my hand and as she did I joined hands with her and asked if I could pray with her. After I prayed, I looked up and there were tears streaming down her face and she could barely get the words out: “You don’t know how much I needed that…I’ve just been evicted.”
$5 dollars to her was like $50 to someone else, or $500, or $5000. It reminds me of the story Jesus told about the poor widow who gave money to the offering: “All the others gave what they do not need, but this poor widow gave out of her need” (Mark 12:44).
I never saw Sallina again, but I’ve never forgotten her and neither has God: “He puts poor people on their feet again; He rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, restoring dignity and respect to their lives” (1 Samuel 2:8). Guess what? He uses you and me to do it.
All God asks is this: “to remember to help the poor—something I really wanted to do” (Galatians 2:10). Because on one of the coldest days of the year, a woman who was evicted touched my life. And I believe God used me to touch hers.