I have been so challenged lately as I continue to work in the clothing ministry. As I mentioned before one challenge is in the area of communicating with so many people who enter.
Muchas personas hablamos espanol y necissito hablar mucho. Estudio in mi casa en la noche y hablo asi asi.
I tried to say that many people speak Spanish and I need to speak a lot. I study at my house at night and I speak ok.
As you can tell I still have much to be desired in the Spanish learning (and REMEMBERING!) but I am slowly coming along. Sooo slowly! I am able to say “hello” and “how are you” and I can ask them to fill out a form and thank them for coming. It’s going ok, but when they start REALLY talking… oh, I am lost as a goose.
The challenge to speak is just one area that challenges me. I DO want to speak with each person that comes in and be able to invite them to church, etc., but honestly God is truly working on my judgmental and hard heart.
The typical scenario goes like this…
There are MANY people who enter our doors wearing very worn clothing, and their children look the same. They immediately ask about how they can get help for their children and if you ask too many questions they are in tears. They are usually overwhelmed over their lack of a job and the inability to care for their families. It is extremely hard to imagine that our food pantry’s ability to give one bag of food per family and our ability to give 5-7 pieces of clothing per person really makes a dent in the needs that they have. Yet, when they stand with me and we go through the items that they have chosen they are often in awe of how God has provided for them THAT day and that brings tears of gratitude. Very often we pray with them and ask the Lord to bring jobs and to meet the needs that they have. It is a very tender place to be and it is honestly a privilege to be a part of God’s provision in their lives.
And then this happens… Every so often there are moms (and sometimes dads) who walk in and claim that they have nothing and are in dire need of clothing for their children. As I listen to their stories I begin to watch them and I notice things that throw me… some of them have their nails done..some of them have IPhones….some are covered in tattoos and reek of cigarette smoke. In my flesh I honestly struggle with the thoughts of, “Where does your money go!? You have THESE things!! How come it’s not being spent on food or clothing for your children?”
There are also those who question the limits. “Why can I only have 5 pieces of clothing!?” IT IS FREE PEOPLE! BE THANKFUL YOU GET FIVE… FOR FREE!! You can TAKE five pieces PER PERSON! If I went to the store and got 5 pieces for each of my family members I would have 15 pieces of clothing!!! And it’s FREE!!!!!!
Oh yea. You see my dilemma. I really go through times of just plain frustration and doubt. I have to catch myself from saying what comes to my mind because I really just want to let them HAVE IT!
I started to think. I knew that God had not given this vision or put me in this position to stand in judgment of anyone. His vision for me was to start a collection of clothing and keep the nicest things possible. It was very clear that the store was to be pretty and a place of dignity. No where in that vision was, “And stand in judgment of the people that I send your way!” No, I don’t remember that part.
When God gives us clear direction (and He does it very often) we are to follow the plan that He has for US. We are to be obedient IN SPITE of what others might do. God began to tell me, “You are to be faithful in my plan for YOU. You are accountable for YOU. You are not going to follow these people home and be accountable for THEM. Let me worry about that.”
So I have decided to seek the Lord. This week God has really shown me that it is my job to do what He calls every Christian to do.
When someone asks me to pray for them… I need to do it. Right then. I need to take their prayer request seriously and I need to pray right then and there for them so that THEY know that I take it seriously.
I need to listen. I do not always have the right words for someone, but I can give them a great gift of just hearing them and validating that someone cares enough to spend time listening.
When I do try to give words it needs to be God’s Word. My wisdom only goes so far and some of these people are in such hard spots that I could not relate if I even tried. God, however, in His infinite wisdom and grace sees it all and I am just going to need to give them Him.
In times of doubt it’s not easy. My flesh get in the way MAJORLY!!! I just need to be still and let Him show me because otherwise I am trying to love in the flesh and THAT does not always work!!