COLUMBIA — You’ve heard it said, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Our Salvation Army Family Thrift Stores do not see junk, but treasures, that are donated and used to promote the mission of "Soup, Soap and Salvation."
We have been known for having some great deals and some of the best prices in town. A senior saint once said to me, “God doesn’t make junk, and he doesn’t waste anything.” Many people donate things to our local shops, making them thrift store treasures. You see, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Items that come to The Salvation Army Family Thrift Store are valued and seen as treasures. In addition to the low prices, the proceeds from The Salvation Army stores are put right back into this community to shelter, clothe and feed people in need, particularly the homeless men, women and children. Another bonus is that this “recycling” keeps the items out of our landfills.
This drive to recycle donated goods goes hand in hand with our mission to avoid being externally wasteful but internally useful to our community. We want to be the best stewards of the resources entrusted to us and then to apply those resources to meet the needs of hurting people. There is nothing hidden about that, and we are thankful to all our donors who give their time, talents or their treasures. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18
Have you ever played hide and seek? You know the game, I am sure. Everyone hides and one person seeks to find the others after he has counted up to 50. Well, aren’t you glad God does not play that game with us? He knows where we are, what we are doing, and he longs that we find him and the joy of salvation. Perhaps, you have heard of sunken treasures that lie at the bottom of a deep ocean. These items are very hard to get to, but as God’s treasures we can be found by his love and resurrected from a sunken sinful state. James Rowe wrote these encouraging words: "I was sinking deep in sin, Far from the peaceful store; Very deeply stained within, Sinking to rise no more; But the Master of the Sea heard my desiring cry, And from the waters lifted me; Now safe am I.”
Now here’s one story about finding a hidden treasure: A little boy, along with his mother, entered one of our Family Thrift Stores. I noticed that the boy was drawn to the book section where at least 500 books sat upon shelves. Out of all those books, the little boy picked up a badly worn children’s picture Bible. The boy's face was filled with an unspeakable joy as he flipped through the pages.
The little boy found a Thrift Store treasure for only 25 cents. I am sure he will cherish it for many years. In fact, he may give this old picture Bible to his child or even grandchild. It is a treasure that has the potential to be passed on from one generation to the next. Are Godly treasures such as joy, peace, love and hope meant to be kept to ourselves or should we be giving them away? I think that these traits must be freely given away to people around us who need them. There is no price for them because Christ paid the eternal debt for the world as he gave up his life. Just think about that children’s picture Bible that someone bought many years ago, used it, then gave it to The Salvation Army and it is now in the hands of this little boy. I am grateful to be in the hands of the Lord right now. All the earthly treasures could not satisfy my desire to be his child.
This young child will soon find out that his Bible is filled with spiritual treasures that moth and dust can not demolish. “But store up for yourself treasures in Heaven, where moth and dust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:20-21. Earthly things will pass away in time, but our faith in the Lord grows as we place our hope and love in him. If you want to save money, for instance, then you must store it up. The more you store up, then the more you will have. It’s my hope that we all are storing up faith-based treasures of God, then giving them away to lost and hurting people who have had them destroyed by the evil one. This might even include a beloved family member.
Out of all the things people donate to our Family Thrift Stores, this little boy found an old picture Bible filled with godly treasures and promises. It goes to show you that all things happen for a reason and that there is something for everyone to buy in our Family Thrift Stores. The real joy is knowing Christ and the power and price he paid as he died on the cross, rose from the grave and promised to return. I am sure heaven rejoiced and the angels shouted a loud “alleluia” as his legacy of love will live on. This hidden treasure was found, and now I believe this little boy has found the hope of salvation.
God has stored up treasures for us to take hold of through the promises of his son, Jesus Christ. He paid for those treasurers with his very life on the old rugged cross. Christ indeed gave his all for this little Columbia child to accept his limitless treasures of joy, peace, hope and eternal life. As the boy and his mother walked out of the store, I saw a wonderful joy — one that no one can destroy — upon his cheerful face. He had found his Thrift Store treasure. So, the next time you shop at one of our Salvation Army Family Thrift Stores, look for your treasure. It awaits you.
Major K. Kendall Mathews is the regional coordinator for The Salvation Army.