It's a most wonderful time of the year. I have just heard that song on the radio, and it reminds me that even when chaos reigns all around me, Christ's intent is for us to experience His peace in our souls. It's a daily choice, to allow culture's disorderly array to manage our well-being and our faith life, or to allow Christ to do it. Paul wrote to the Romans about that very thing: "Do not change yourselves to be like people of this world, but be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to Him" (Romans 12:2). That sums up the purpose of reaching out to others with life-changing answers, not just emergency needs. That is why, in addition to the food and clothing assistance (on Wednesday alone, we saw representatives from 65 families, each of whom received both food assistance and special provisions for Thanksgiving dinner), Forest Park Ministry Center is also offering mentoring through the Layette Ministry (in-home visits with moms and newborns), an accompanying booklet to assist them as they provide a spiritually and physically healthy environment for their children, and M&M's Bible Cafe, a weekly Bible study for moms and their mentors that meets at the ministry center. In addition, those guests who express need for individual counseling are given the care needed to allow them to grow through distressing life situations.
An answer to a long time prayer need is being fulfilled now - and we are praising God! For many months, we have prayed for the opportunity to provide a venue for the young men in the neighborhood to meet and learn how to become the men and fathers that God desires and their children need. Recently, a retired police officer visited the center and asked specifically about how he could invest himself in the ministry. When he heard this dream, he felt led to follow through, and with the help of others that he is recruiting, will begin "Honor Begins At Home" in January, meeting each week at the center. In addition, we are in the planning stages of another group of women with specific needs.
God is teaching me so much about patience and waiting on Him. As needs are becoming evident to me, I want to jump in and rescue. But I am being taught to allow Him to bring those alongside who have passion for Him and reaching people in need. Even in the food pantry - after such a whirlwind day on Wednesday, the pantry was BARE! On Thursday, helpers brought food from a local school (see photos below) and on Saturday, teens came and stocked. Then on Monday, another church brought food - and none of those deliveries had been on the regular schedule! Obviously, it was on God's, though!
As I reflect on these and many other blessings, I also pray that each of you has a blessed Thanksgiving. Remembering that Christ has given us the ultimate gift, let's all focus our eyes on His goodness, mercy, and grace. I pray that we all experience this as we give thanks, and as we usher in the season to celebrate His birth.