A few months ago a homeless family — mother, six children and one on the way — entered Harbor House (Salvation Army’s local homeless shelter) because they had no place to go. We shared with them what we had: our shelter where they found a roof over their head, warm beds, clothes to wear and food to eat. The mother looked at me and said, “I am so grateful to God and The Salvation Army for caring for me and my kids and for sharing hope and your resources during this stressful time.”
Sharing our gifts of food, shelter and clothing is at the top our priority list. Through our caring attitude and the community’s donations to our programs, people in need have a place to live while they work to get back on the road to self-sufficiency. Sharing our faith through sheltering the homeless is an important aspect of our mission. God is the Father of orphans and a champion of widows. He makes homes for the homeless. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2. People should matter most, and one of The Salvation Army’s mottoes we live by is “Sharing is caring, with a heart to God and hand to man.”
On another recent occasion, a Spanish-speaking woman came to The Salvation Army's social services department requesting help for Christmas. Although I do not speak Spanish, we connected through non-verbal communication, in sharing the love and compassion of Jesus Christ.
This woman was in need of toys for her kids during this Christmas season. What she really needed was a gift that cannot be seen but can be felt deep down in the heart — and that gift is the Lord Jesus Christ, a gift that has no end and that can be shared with all humanity.
The Salvation Army’s work included showing that we care by sharing Christ’s love and the gifts given to us by our community supporters. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:9-10.
This Hispanic woman didn’t know much English, but she did understand our loving spirit that reached out to her kids in a time of hardship. As we share ourselves with those we help, they see God’s love in us, and hopefully someday, they will share that same love of God with other people. Sharing is caring.
Sometimes sharing becomes a sacrificial gift of an unpleasant nature. One evening at one of our Thrift Stores, the store team leader was closing the store, and a man approached her with a gun and demanded money. Clearly this man was out of his mind and not thinking and seemed willing to take her life. God was there in the midst of that situation, and I believe He provided protection because her faith did not waver, although she was afraid.
My point here is the team leader’s life was placed on the line, while she was “doing the most good” for God and The Salvation Army. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1.
Perhaps she prayed, “I thank you for the sacrifice you made for me. Give me the courage to follow your example. Before you left this earth, you reminded us that being your disciple might mean hardship or offering myself as a living sacrifice. My prayer is that I will live my life in obedience to you, Lord.” Sharing is caring that sometimes takes us into fearful situations, but remember, we serve a God who promises never to leave us or forsake us and is a very present help in the time of trouble.
God calls us to share with others what He has given to us, not just material things, but the spiritual blessings that will live and stand the test of time. I mean love, peace and joy that brighten the deep places of our world and that can penetrate any broken spirit of humankind. Galatians 5:22-23, says, “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things.” You see, our inner spirit of God’s grace in us produces these character traits, but in our situation they become our caring and sharing traits, which help define who we are and the foundation upon which we stand.
Cultivating generosity is needed in seasons of plenty and seasons of need. When people come to me and ask what they can give to assist people, I ask them to think about those people we serve — consider the disenfranchised, consider the poor and consider those who do not have the basics of things of life, … and then you will be led. I would encourage you during this season of giving that you not give a hand-out but offer a hand up that reaches toward heaven. People need to know that God gave His very best – His only son, so that we may accept Him as Lord and Master. During this time of need, God calls us to share our resources and care for those are in need.
Have a Great CHRISTmas and a Happy New Year, filled with boundless blessings.
Major K. Kendall Mathews is the regional coordinator for The Salvation Army.