Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Garage Sale and Night Cafe for a Cause

Everyone loves garage sales.  There’s just no better place to get a great bargain.  You also get to mingle with some very nice people who are more than willing to tell you the history of any item on sale and how it benefited them (as opposed to some apathetic saleslady who has never used the product and cares for it lot less than you do).  It’s as much a social experience as it is a shopping one.

But, do you know what’s even better than a garage sale?  It’s a garage sale for a great cause…and there’s no greater cause then helping someone in dire need.  Here’s a backgrounder for you.

Tate Idocus is a public school teacher and a single mother of three teenage girls.  My family knows her because she goes to the same church we do, where she is quite active in the children’s ministry, the single moms’ ministry, and the ushering ministry.  Her teen girls are also very active in the youth and they serve the Lord as passionately as their mother does, especially when it comes to music.

Last month, we got news that Tate’s kidneys have failed, and she needs to have a kidney transplant and, while waiting, requires a dialysis twice a week.  The amount needed is pretty insurmountable, into the 7 digits.  Where can a single mother of three get that kind of money?

Well, the guys at church got wind of her plight and jumped at the chance to help her out.  For the past month, CCF (short for Christ’s Commission Fellowship, the name of the church) has been challenging the congregation through Rick Warren’s 40-Days of Love small group study series and the Sunday messages that were based on it (see my previous blog).

Rick Warren (author of The Purpose Driven Life) and the CCF speakers really hammered it into us that love is a verb, and therefore we should go out of our way to show love to others.

Then enter Tate’s situation, right in the middle of the 40 Days of Love campaign.  It’s as if God was giving us a “Love Project” to have us apply what we learned.

The outpouring of love has been AMAZING.

On the Sunday where her situation was told to the congregation, someone offered to donate his kidney for her (it’s not that simple though, there has to be a match).  There’s been an outpouring of money.  The next Sunday, a farmer in the congregation displayed his organic produce in the church lobby, all proceeds going to Tate.  There was also a vending machine, selling bottled iced tea and other drinks, all proceeds going to Tate as well.

And now we have this Garage Sale and Night Cafe for a Cause, and I surely hope you can support us, and support Tate, by dropping by.  It would be on Saturday, April 9, 2011, 10:30 AM to 9 PM.  The venue is CCF, which is right across the street from Robinson’s car park entrance.

Who knows, you might find some rare, hard to find item that will do wonders for you.  As of last count, nearly 80% of our church is doing small groups, and therefore doing the 40 Days of Love Campaign.  You can be pretty sure that representatives from most, if not all, of said groups will be present…and therefore you will have LOTS and LOTS to choose from.

My young couples small group already has a spot there, and we will sell all kinds of stuff.  We have made it clear to CCF leadership that the proceeds from our sales will specifically go to supporting the needs of her three teens while she is getting her transplant in Manila.  What can I say, the youth has a special place in our hearts.

Going even further, a couple in the group, who owns i-Digital Office (formerly Inke) on Velez St.  has pledged that proceeds from ink refill and PC repairs done there will also go to Tate.  So if you have any needs in this area, please have it done there as well.

So please support all of this outpouring of love for our dear sister in Christ.  Even my children, on their own initiative, have rummaged through their old toy boxes and closets for items they like to give (turning my bedroom, where the old toy boxes were located into ground zero of a tornado storm).  In fact, as I was finishing this piece, I got two text messages from the church, a text brigade asking everyone to come and support this cause.  And so here I am, doing that through this blog.

Happy shopping, and may God bless you for your contribution to this cause.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Going through the motions

This month, my young couples group is scheduled to lead the Children’s Ministry’s Sunday School.  In CCF, the church that I go to, every small group is assigned a month to minister to the kids, and, this year, April is our month.

Usually, I would jump at this opportunity, because Children’s Ministry is quite close to my heart, and in the heart of my group mates (many of us are teachers by profession).  Unfortunately, I have allowed my recent busyness to push my Christian walk to the realm of lukewarmness.

It showed when it came to this ministry.  I was pretty apathetic when the church’s office staff reminded me about our stint as teachers for the month of April.  I got all the materials on Tuesday, but I didn’t even look at them until the day before we took over.  March was a really manic month, and I was just plain exhausted and didn’t want to think about ministry, and my quiet time and prayer life also went down in the dumps.

It took God to use one of my Abba’s Orchard students to remind me that the more loaded I am, all the more I need to be intimate with the Lord. Thank you, you beautiful adolescent, you know who you are.

Another thing God did to jolt me back into the swing of things was through music.  For some strange, and surely God-given reason, almost every time I would tune in to 103.3 FM (the Christian station here in CDO), Matthew West’s hit song, The Motions, would play.  It’s a powerful song that challenges us to passionately give our best and our all for God, not just go through the motions of a “Christian life.”  That’s exactly what I was struggling with, going through the motions.  Ho-hum.

God also, for another very strange reason, kept reminding me of a recruiting clip of a children’s program that CCF did a few years back, called Trading Places.  How weird is that?  He just kept reminding me of the video clip over and over again, even if that program was done three years ago, far into distant memory.    Below is said Trading Places recruiting clip.  It’s quite nice, designed to get churchgoers to volunteer for the said Trading Places program.

The end of the chorus kept ringing in my ears, “Make a difference in me…use me so a child will know.”

Then I was like, “Okay, Lord, okay…I get you.  I’ve strayed a bit, and now lots of little ones will depend on me and my team for one whole month.  I need to shape up, NOW!”  Thank God, He is merciful, because all that’s needed to shape up and become a fruitful believer again is to abide.  And so I have.

Good thing too.  Remember, a team is only as good as its leader, and if I fail to be used by God and instead gave an impression that we can get by on our own skill, we’re sunk.  I think this is the reason why God was so in my face right before we started our stint…because he wanted me, and therefore us, to rely on Him for the great challenges ahead.

I handled ages 9-12 this morning, and I had a whopping 32+ students!  All stuffed in a little room.  Holy cow!  I thought I had it rough, but the 6-8 class also had over 30 students, and so did the youngest class, ages 3-5.  Yikes, over 30 students per class!!  This is the third year my group has been teaching the kids, but there were nowhere near these numbers.  I’m glad God is growing CCF, but whew!

We got through the first Sunday.  One down, three more to go.  But what will be most memorable out of this experience, for me, would be how He went after me right before this started.  I was good and ready to go through this lackadaisically, relying on my experience and skill as a teacher, instead of relying on His power.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5)

‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” (Zech. 4:6)

Lesson learned.  And as the Matthew West song goes:
I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?”

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