The Power of Community
Posted on February 28th, 2014 at 11:30AM
This week I went to speak to a lovely group of elderly men and women at Dunnington Methodist Church. They were such a community - before I spoke they shared news of some of the members of their group who couldn't be there because of injuries or family situations, full of care and concern for them. I shared with them how community is formed through Acts 435 - to this group in their 80s and 90s, the Internet was a far-distant concept! But community isn't.
I see the 'thank you' messages that go out to the donors who give to a particular request and this one has just left me choked up with emotion:
After a terrible time over the last 12 months due to the break up of my marriage and consequent bankruptcy I was left with an empty house. I turned to drink and contemplated suicide. With the support of my mother and Christian supporters, known and unknown, I have now managed to turn a corner. Your unseen gift of love has filled me with a sense of hope. Words are nothing without actions and your help has given me the chance to start acting on rebuilding my life.
It's that sentence "your unseen gift of love has filled me with a sense of hope" that really moves me. Also, the evidence of how a community has come around him, as he says, family in the case of his mother, and then Christian supporters, both known through his local church contact and unknown in the form of Acts 435 donors.
A lovely success story came through this week, again showing the impact of community:
Family encouraged and offered hope though the gift of paint!
A couple with severe debt issues, being supported by a church and Christians Against Poverty centre in Northern Ireland, had a burst pipe in their home, damaging over half their home. They didn't have any insurance, and couldn't afford the necessary repairs. Social services were involved with their 6 year old boy due to other issues of addiction and relationship breakdown, and they needed to provide a safe and secure environment for their child and one of the requirements was to repair and redecorate their child’s bedroom as he was sleeping in the parents’ bed.
Through £90 from Acts 435 donors, the church was able to offer the family much needed assistance, that enabled them to complete the redecoration of the boy’s room and Social Services are now delighted with the result and have ceased their involvement with the family.
It’s clear to me that the local church is doing a wonderful job of showing this family love and care and I am glad Acts 435 could play a small but significant part in that.
A couple of weeks ago, another wonderful example of a community rallying round someone in need occurred … but through Twitter!
A lady approached me about a vulnerable teenager who had just had a stillbirth but couldn’t afford a headstone for her baby’s grave, and this was causing her great distress. Could we help? Well, being part of an established church, I was able to set her up straight away as an advocate and she posted the request.
Her Twitter network was incredibly faithful to her call for a whip-round to bless this bereaved girl. £500 raised in a matter of hours on a Sunday afternoon/evening – as I said over Twitter ‘a fitting way to end the Lord’s Day’.
Community is alive and well, and it is wonderful to read stories of how that makes people feel, especially the most vulnerable in our society today.