God is working in many lives and we hope you find encouragement by some of these stories.
Is God working in your life? Tell us about it, we'd love to hear what God is doing.
Garage sales are a normal summertime activity, confirming the perennial truth that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” For me, garage-saling could be considered a sport – I tend to stop and shop much more than I toss out or sell off, much to my wife’s chagrin. But our garage sale in late May ended up being a much different experience.
With sun shining bright all weekend, God sent hundreds of people our way. There was plenty to be had by all, but it seemed as if the deals and steals were all mine. We raised $626 after a two-day sale and 100% of proceeds will support my work with Syrian refugees in Germany this July. And I got rid of stuff I no longer wanted by selling off backpacks, sleeping bags, bikes, a tent, board games, jigsaw puzzles and books.
But beyond developing in me a new focus on downsizing (and a new bond with my wife, Sue), God used this garage sale to share our faith with some unlikely people. I was prepared to reach out to fellow campers, retired guys, fellow dog-lovers, new neighbors, old friends, international students, athletes and biker-kids. But a self-proclaimed atheist caught me totally off guard, especially when he spent an inordinate amount of time pawing through the many Bibles and Christian literature I had for sale.
I asked him, “Why?” Then, in the course of our conversation, I learned that his mom, who used to read Bible stories to him, had died last fall. His dad was entering hospice soon. With this in mind, I suspect he was facing his own end-of-life questions. So I helped fill a bag with helpful resources, including Lee Strobel’s A Case for Faith. We exchanged names and phone numbers for a follow-up conversation.
Far from the maddening crowds, Sue also ministered to our recently widowed neighbor—one who cries daily, even though it’s been eighteen months since her husband died. She feels overwhelmed with clearing out the belongings of a pack-rat husband (like me). We invited her to High Point Church and Lucina Gibson’s next GriefShare group. She lives next door, so we will be connecting with her again.
Since then, Sue has connected with two other hurting neighbors she met at a recent progressive dinner for the Walnut Grove neighborhood. None of this would have happened without the garage sale.
Garage sales are a part of a normal summer – but they are also outlets for conversations that might be unexpected treasures to neighbors in need. Who knew? God did.
Charlie, resident canine and official mascot, was in or out the door each time it swung open. He roamed and busily sniffed around house and grounds, marching alongside residents and volunteer gardeners. You know, his “pack”.
There was a subdued buzz of activity amidst the casualness of a sunny holiday weekend. Rain was in the forecast for the next day: time to get the last veggies planted. Volunteers were also coming through to help coordinate plans for the widely publicized pancake breakfast fundraiser one week later (already past as of this writing). In the middle of all this, Karin took a few moments to reflect, and here is a brief summary of our conversation.
On Critiquing Miracles
In church after the most recent service day at Hope & A Future, Pastor Nic talked about an exchange he’d had with Karin during the service day. He’d asked if there was anything the church could do better in their volunteer efforts. In response, Karin had asked something along the lines of, “Are you asking me to critique the miracle?”
One week later, Karin expanded on this. There’s so much to do here, she told me, that she couldn’t imagine getting it all done without volunteer help. So no, indeed, she’s not going to critique the miracle of a vision coming true in so many unexpected ways.
What is the miracle? Simply this: in the church-wide service days over the past two years, High Point Church has come alongside and answered a call. Karin is trusting God, stepping out in faith and moving forward with a vision she believes He gave her over a decade ago. As many have observed, the idea’s a little outside the box.
In 2012, Hope & A Future purchased a 5½-acre lot on Madison’s far west side with an existing farmhouse and built an addition. They now run an adult family home, providing skilled nursing care for seniors. In keeping with the vision of developing an intergenerational community, a young family also lives on-site. Basically, they’re in the middle of building a neighborhood, and Karin has taken on roles she never imagined she would. But God has provided on every front along the way.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
So how, specifically, did High Point volunteers help? Landscaping, garden cleanup, and exterior work got done. Fence posts got replaced, taking care of some potential safety issues. “This project would not be running without volunteers,” she said.
Of particular importance is the fact that so many people have come ready with specialized skills to contribute, and so many have done good work with a good attitude. Time after time, people have just shown up, often under less than ideal conditions.
A simple smile goes a long way, too. “It’s way more of a witness than people know,” Karin said. Not everyone involved with the organization is a believer: several people have gotten to see the church at work outside its walls, and also to participate in that work.
I asked Karin how the church can help further in the coming months, and here are her responses:
- Pray for their work with the city on their upcoming development plans.
- Fundraising: if anyone has creative fundraising ideas and/or ideas about securing grants, please let them know.
- Canning: Karin would like to learn how to can the produce they’re growing, and would appreciate learning from someone knowledgeable in this area.
- If anyone wants to come out and work in the garden, they’re welcome.
Volunteers are also welcome to use the pool and picnic: just call first if you’re going to do this.
Karin’s parting thoughts were along the lines of thankfulness. I didn’t get the exact quote, but the word “gratitude” was repeated multiple times as we wrapped up our conversation. Bottom line, Karin would like to express deepest thanks for the church’s help and partnership, in ways big and small, seen and unseen. She’d also like to let every volunteer know that your impact is bigger than you think.
Upcoming Events at Hope & A Future
There is a lot going on, and people are invited to join in on any or all of the following events:
- 1st Friday each month: movie night at 6:30pm
- 2nd Friday each month: pot luck and music night – dinner starts at 6pm followed by music from 7pm to 9pm
- 2nd & 4th Sundays each month: pot luck and prayer, 5:30pm to 8pm
Check out Hope & A Future's website for more info.
In December of 2012, Maria Hudson shared her and her family's trial as they navigated the waters of adoption. She shared how it was painful and difficult, but they were going to continue to follow God and trust in Him.
One and a half years later, they Hudsons have part two to share, which was the adoption of their son, Asher in January of 2014. They love him so much and are so blessed to have him in their family, but as you'll see in this story, Asher wasn't even the best part.
Dave Helke shares how God surprisingly changed him, waking him from a sleep and opening a whole new world.