"I believe our journey started quite some time ago -- during a period when we were just getting started. I had been out of college only about 5 years and I was at the early stage of my telecommunications career. We had two young daughters and had just purchased our first home. (We had been renters up to that point). One Sunday, we learned about a family--people we did not know--who had just experienced some severe health issues and expenses. An appeal was made for our congregation to assist to the degree people could. Our "early stage of marriage" budget was rather tight and we had not built up much in savings at that point. Yet, we had this "strange" sense that we were being asked by God to help out--and to do so at what would be a stretch level for us at that point in our marriage. So, with some wobbliness in the way we wrote out that check, we took that step and sought to be generous with the Lord and for the benefit of that family. I won't go through how God confirmed that He was pleased with this step (which we did anonymously), but He blessed us in very special ways over a period of time following that furtive step on our part.
So, that was most likely the beginning for us. It was the seed planting moment that would lead to greater fruit-bearing periods in the years ahead."
....Duffy & Jean Ann
"Our family has the desire to serve the Christ-followers of our community, and reach the unchurched culture through the investment of influence and resources in The Performers Ballet & Jazz Co., a small non-profit pre-professional dance company. The long-running, 30 year production of Christmas Joy and the new, How Love Wins are brought to the community in a secular venue depicting the life of Christ in an aesthetically, artful display using Christian music.
We invest because we want to make a difference in the lives of people who: are Christians wanting winsome and quality entertainment during Christmas and Easter; may be church-goers but not pursuing a relationship with God through Jesus Christ; have a God-inspired desire to work among us as followers of Christ, and know little of the life of Christ but enjoy quality dance and music.
How do we invest time, talent and treasure? Scholarships; funding incentives for participation; and volunteering and working alongside Company board members: 1) Offering weekly prayer and bible study at Koinonia Coffee House; 2) Serving on the Board of Directors as Communications Secretary, as an Advisor, and 3) Serving on committees - community service, mentoring, or security.
As we are a little over a year away from closing our tenure with this organization, we have seen much fruit from our years here. From the talent spawned and nutured in our daughter who has danced and has been educated in the company, to the spiritual growth in us that comes from the pains and joys of servant-leadership. We are now looking ahead with the National Christian Foundation and with their guidance as we find new areas to serve."
.... Bill & Jackie Stewart
"One of my earliest memories of experiencing giving and the joy it brings is when I was in elementary school. The country fair came to our home town. Daddy & Mother gave my brother and me each an allowance to spend at the fair.
At the same time, our church was having an emphasis for Lottie Moon offering (foreign missions). My heart went out to this mission work and I wanted to be a part of it. As a young child, I realized that I did not have any way to contribute to this need. I was disappointed in my limitations. Then, I realized that I did have the 'fair allowance'.
A struggle began. I could give the 'fair allowance' which was not much compared to what was needed. Also that meant I would have to give up going to the fair which was a big event for us kids.
I did give the 'fair allowance' to the Lottie Moon foreign mission offering. The joy that flooded my young soul was overwhelming and far exceeded the fun that had been anticipated at the fair. Today that memory of 'giving/joy' continues to encourage me to give generously."
"It wasn't until I was an adult that I had an opportunity to go on a short women's mission trip to Juarez, Mexico with a group of 17 from my church. The closer we got to the ministry home the more evident it became that they served people in a very poor area of the city.
Although we did many things while in Juarez I will highlight two that moved me deeply. On our first evening we went to a church where 50 women were attending bible study. The women were told that dinner would be available after class. We decorated the room and distributed gift bags we put together for them before going on the trip. We decided they probably had never had homemade Chicken Alfredo (and sides). They loved it! None of these women had EVER been served. They have served and waited on others their entire lives. We received hugs galore. It was by the grace of God that we were able to pull this dinner off in such a short amount of time.
Day two we spent at a nursing home for 30 elderly women. Juarez in the summer is extremely hot and they had no air conditioning. There were 3 to 4 women per room, which were very small. Conditions were very depressing. I wondered what winter was like for them.
We moved them outside into a semi-covered patio so they could be in the sunlight and get some air. We sang Christian hymns while they ate and many clapped along while we sang. It was so hard for me not to cry because they received our attention like sponges.
We washed their hands and feet in basins, lathered them with lotion, cut and polished their nails, and combed their hair. We visited with each women hugging them, holding their hands, just loving on them. It is so true that the eye is the lamplight to the soul. I dreaded how it would be to leave at the end of the day. Much to my surprise instead of being a sad time it became one of grace, humility, and peace. We each received a blessing from them one by one. They expressed their thanks and joy for spending the day with them, wished us a safe trip home and waved at us until we were out of sight. God truly created love as a language of its own. It defeats all language barriers.
I will never forget how I felt the Holy Spirit touching another life through me. It gave me such a deep appreciation for all missionaries who make it their life journey to help the poor and lead people to Christ, regardless of harship or safety. I will never forget this very small glimps of what missionaries and volunteers do. I am not called to be a missionary but I am called to love everyone like Christ loves us. Giving of time to others definitely brings a feeling of great joy!"
"A friend volunteered at a local CareNet pregnancy center, so I took my 12 and 17 year old daughters there to learn about the value of babies and the preciousness of life, the commitment of people in ministry, and the challenges of funding a busy ministry. My girls were enthralled at the miniatures of babies growing in the womb, and very curious about the ladies coming in for diapers and clothing with their young children. At the end of our time there, we were about to leave and my oldest pulled $5 out of her pocket and gave it to the director "to help". My youngest pulled everything out of her pockets, and gave her whole allowance of $20 to the director. I felt the Lord smile on His little ones as they cared for others in His name. And isn't that the type of generosity we want to teach our children?