Our church was struggling in recruiting people to participate in our Adventist Community Services program. Few wanted to engage, though everyone affirmed that they wanted the work done. We suffered from the usual misconceptions about this type of service. Men wouldn’t serve because they thought it involved only processing used clothing. Women wouldn’t serve because they were fearful of strangers asking for gas money late at night.
Several years ago, I became involved with our county Food and Care Coalition. I was also serving on our church’s nominating committee. When the committee began discussing Community Services, we couldn’t find a likely volunteer. I finally decided that the position was very much like my work with the county Food and Care Coalition. So I agreed to do it.
Support came quickly from the church and community. We found some portable closets to store disaster-relief items. Then we held a drive for food, water, blankets, flashlights, medical and personal hygiene supplies, and other items. Our little church became Red Cross-accredited, and the first certified Adventist community center in the Nevada-Utah Conference.
We have assisted in numerous disaster-relief programs, have loved and helped many individuals, and cooperated closely with community agencies throughout our country.
Several times a year (not just at Christmas and Thanksgiving) we distribute food and supplies to several dozen needy families. Nearly everyone in the church brings something to share. We enlist the help of college students who gather nonperishable items and help with distribution.
We had the opportunity of supplying handmade baby quilts and child-rearing books to the Young Mothers’ Club in the local public high school. These teen mothers were grateful for the donations, as they were the only ones they had received.
We decided to hold a rummage sale to raise needed cash for our center. Previously, such sales typically raised about $500 and were considered by the staff as a big hassle because of the long hours and difficulty of disposing of unsold items. This time the staff arrived to find people waiting for the sale to begin. We sold nearly $1,500 worth of merchandise, and at day’s end nothing was left.
Of course, I get discouraged at times as I see the great need in our community. But then I remember that God has promised to supply that need. I also remember that nothing happens until somebody actually steps out and starts doing something about it. Stewardship often means taking the first step.
“You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?” (Matt. 16:8-10, NIV).
Linda P. Walton is a public relations practitioner and president of the Walton Group, Inc., in American Fork, Utah. She wrote this when she was a member of the Provo, Utah, Seventh-day Adventist Church.