II Peter 1: 5-8
“5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive…” (NIV)
Romans 5: 3-5
“ 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (NIV)
Every day, a person walks through one of our doors who is in the middle of a crisis. A volunteer sits down to first listen, then compassionately engage and offer some wisdom that has come out of their own struggles, their own time of suffering. Alcoholics know how to talk about recovery, because recovery is hard and to overcome addictions requires knowledge about it, along with self-control, a great deal of perseverance, and reliance on God’s strength every day.
One thing that makes ABCCM unique is our reliance on volunteers and our insistence on having volunteers lead each step in each Ministry. We might say it is because of the different gifts in the body of Christ…and we would be right…but at a deeper level it so the Holy Spirit can connect those who have endured similar sufferings and trials with those who are facing them now. There is something so powerful when a person we look up to says, “I’ve been through what you are going through now and my healing began when I realized I could not do it alone…” On many occasions, I have heard people say, “I didn’t go through all this just for me, others have to know and know they can overcome too.” So often our faith grows in the midst of trials or suffering and that inspires a great gift which is to give back to others. What we have learned.
Peter’s statement ends with “..and to mutual affection, love. “ Paul’s statement ends with, “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” The process always ends with us needing each other more, realizing that we all have something precious to share out of our own life experiences. Our churches give back every day at ABCCM through their volunteer missionaries.
I will never forget a reporter going up to a well-dressed volunteer at the ABCCM Shelter on Coxe Ave and asking to interview her. She agreed, only to have the reporter ask, “What is someone so well healed as you are doing here with the homeless?” I was appalled at the crassness of the reporter and held my breath for the response. Without missing a beat, she said, “Lady, you have no idea what I have experienced in my life, or what I have had to overcome – but I know ABCCM is here to help them overcome whatever they face and that’s why I am here.”
Past all the clothes, past all the appearances, we are frail humans who need each other, who need God, who need to know that we are not alone – that God cares and loves us. Isn’t that the genius in Christ’s statement, “Whenever you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.” Once I heard a poor person give witness to a volunteer about how they trust God every day, and He provides. The volunteer said: but we gave you the food. The client said, “No .. God worked through you, to provide what I needed today…just like He is for all these other folks here.” The humbled volunteer came to me and said, “Boy, I need faith like that.”
ABCCM is a place that makes it possible for us to share our faith with neighbors we don’t know, which means to share our trials, our suffering, our struggles; then grow both in love for one another and in our Love and Reliance on God. If you’re a Veteran, then some of the most vulnerable Veterans are at ABCCM. If you experienced recovery, then come help someone recover. If you are a survivor, then come help someone survive. If you have been poor, then come help the poor. If you have been sick, then come offer healing to the sick. Your neighbor needs you. God needs you to connect with your neighbor.
Call us at 259-5300 or through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reverend Scott Rogers