"What can I do?"
"How can we help?"
"I would like to do something for them?"
I've been receiving text messages, emails, and phone calls from members of the church wanting to help Jesse James and her sisters. As you know, on Thursday, we were able to gift Jesse and girls a car. This answered one great need for them. Some local news blogs have carried this story and it's always interesting (but not recommended) to read comments of readers to these postings. Many are positive. Some are wondering why they can't get a car from the church. Others bring up the challenges now of maintenance, insurance and upkeep of the vehicle. Those are good points, but Jesse is a responsible young lady and worked Thursday to secure insurance on the car and had funds to do such. As for maintenance and upkeep, I'm confident that if made aware, we have people in the congregation more than willing to help in these areas as well. Of course, our hope is that the car is as reliable as it seems for many years and nothing more than regular preventive maintenance will be required.
Yesterday, one of the members of First Baptist let me know that through his construction company, he would take care of repairing and re-roofing their home. (Thanks Logan Bowen.) Apparently, a lumber yard has agreed to donate the material needed.
Another member of the church has volunteered his legal expertise in areas of negotiation surrounding home title and mortgage issues.
Others are offering to help her discover what aid may be available regarding food and clothing for the long term.
I have had numerous women contact me asking if they can help Jesse with anything related to the girls or house work or various other things.
The Justice Coalition has done well to get the information regarding their needs as well as providing tangible support and legal help. In fact, it was through Ann Dugger and the Justice Coalition that we were invited to join this story. Thanks Ann.
I believe all the help that's been offered may be overwhelming to Jesse, though she is very appreciative. Can you imagine being eighteen and dealing with the loss of your parents and now having a bunch of strangers coming to your home for a press conference and then offering to help?
So at this point, we are offering what we can without overwhelming the girls too much, hopefully. I believe all our volunteers will have ample opportunities to step in and help. I told Jesse that all that we do is for one reason - to bring glory to God and to show her His great love.
If we claim to be missional in our practice and really believe that this life is not about us, then when these opportunities (or tests, as I referenced yesterday) come, we must boldly step out of our comfort zones and show God's love visibly to the community around us. This is not about p/r for First Baptist Church. It's about being the people of God that we have been called to be.
My promise to Jesse, on behalf of the church, is that as long as she desires, we'll be there for her. It was made clear that we care greatly for her and her sisters, for their spiritual lives as well as their physical situation. It's so easy for a story to peak and be interesting, but then the days, weeks and months go by and sometimes we get busy with other things. We don't intentionally forget, but let's face it, we're a sound byte culture and stories come and go. Let's make sure that we don't forget those we serve, whether it be Jesse or someone else.
One of our ladies said she is putting a list above her computer screen with names and pictures of things like this, just to ensure she continues to pray and doesn't forget.
I was wondering yesterday why these types of stories seem to become part of our story. Why does First Baptist Orange Park find itself in the middle of these types of things? Then, it hit me. God has been molding us for years and preparing us to be His hands and feet in this community. We're not the only church doing these things, but we're now at a point where it just feels natural to serve.
To God be the glory!