Friday, January 20, 2012

One Handful At A Time

When a tornado struck our community recently, just a mile from the Camp, several people were injured and many homes were destroyed. My wife, Jen, and I were eager to help the victims in any way that we could—especially when we learned that some of the victims were longtime church friends and supporters of South Mountain Christian Camp.

Once the roads were opened up to volunteers, we arrived at the site of the devastation, unsure what to expect. Some of the homes had been completely obliterated. Others had been severely damaged. Trees were twisted and knotted into unthinkable shapes. The destructive power of the storm was evident everywhere we looked.

Our first move was to find our friends and offer our condolences. As we listened to their stories, we were amazed at how God has spared their lives, even in the direst of circumstances. Although there were injuries to some of their family members, everyone was safe and accounted for.

Next, we turned out attention to the cleanup process. At this point things became intimidating for me. I saw volunteers who had brought heavy machinery to clear away the wreckage. I saw others who had brought chain saws and were cutting up the fallen trees. In the midst of this, I heard stories of extravagant donations being made by generous individuals to help replace what had been lost.

I began to wonder, What can I do? I have no heavy machinery. I have no wealth to donate. I don’t even have a chain saw. All I had was a pair of work gloves covering two willing hands.

Then my friend pointed out that much of the pink insulation from an obliterated home was strewn all over the trees that lined the back edge of the property. “It’s just eyesore stuff really,” he said, “but it does need to be cleaned up.”

Jen and I eagerly jumped into the project. We quickly retrieved a box of trash bags from the Camp and proceeded to the tree line. Suddenly our eagerness slammed into the wall of reality. From a distance, picking up the insulation seemed like a great job for the two of us, but up close, we soon realized that we could spend a week picking out the pink fluff from the trees and still not have the job completed. It was overwhelming to say the least.

Still, our desire to help burned within us, driving us to move forward. We took a breath, and then immersed ourselves in the project. One handful at a time, we picked up the insulation. The progress was slow, but we kept at it.

It wasn’t until we had nearly filled our second 60-gallon trash bag that I looked up to see that another volunteer had joined us. We greeted each other briefly, then got back to work. After another bag was filled, I realized that three others were now working alongside us. Encouraged that our progress was accelerating, I began to have hope that the project may not be as daunting as I first thought.

And now more and more people were joining in. Every time I looked up, the volunteers were increasing. Our group was now dozens strong and making tremendous progress. Bag after bag was filled and carried off, and then, before you knew it, the job was done.

What had seemed to me a week-long project had been accomplished in just a few hours. And, to tell the truth, it only felt like about 45 minutes because there was such an energy about the group. We all shared the same intense desire to help out, and that desire was multiplied into efficiency.

As we meandered about, picking up the last few pieces of trash, I realized that this experience was just like the Kingdom of God. Many times, in the Kingdom, we may wonder where to find our place. We see others with gifts and talents that we could never hope to possess, and we begin to doubt that God could ever use us. But God is not looking for just the powerful and popular. He’s looking for anyone who is willing to be used by Him. If you offer yourself to God, you’ll find that He can do greater things with your life than you could ever imagine.

And, just as Jen and I felt when we first started picking up the insulation, you might feel that the task is too great. You may even wonder if you’re making any difference at all. But God’s Kingdom is big. You never know how your small contribution might inspire others to do the same. God tells us, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

We see clear evidence of this all the time at South Mountain Christian Camp. Volunteer groups accomplish in a day what would take us weeks to do alone. Multiple contributions come in to cover a daunting bill that we lack the funds to pay. And, most importantly, hundreds of lives are impacted for the Kingdom through this ministry when a team of individuals work together in the name of Jesus Christ.

We consider every one of our supporters to be vital members of our team. Every prayer, every donation, and every minute of volunteering plays a significant role in God’s Kingdom. And that includes you!


NOTE: The donate button below is to make a contribution to the ministry of South Mountain Christian Camp. To make a donation to the tornado victims contact BB&T banks at 828-287-3395 and ask about the Piney Mountain Relief Fund.