Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My children won't eat cauliflower

One will eat a salad, but not carrots; the other won't eat anything green and is suspicious of most vegetables.  My children don't realize it, but they live privileged lives because they have the luxury of choosing to not eat everything we cook for dinner.  This is a gift most of us overlook each day: choosing what we eat (and when and where we eat).  So many in our community, state, nation and world can only dream of such choices. Hunger means being grateful for food that fills your tummy, even if it's not your favorite.

I share this perspective not to make my own family or yours feel guilty.  I share it to point out that some of the blessings in our lives are things we take for granted.  I also share this to give insight into one aspect of hunger that is lost on many of us:  having limited choices in satisfying basic needs.

So the next time you donate food to us or any pantry, donate something healthy, but make sure it is something you would eat with a smile on your face.  I can assure you that my children never donate canned spinach, and if it were all up to my son, we'd just give out lots of chocolate and Cheerios to everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for all that you do to make the community a better place.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Do we have to agree on everything to work together?

Recently I was in a meeting with some volunteer leaders, reviewing CCSC's Core Values. These values say that while we are a coalition of Christian churches, we don't agree with one another on everything, and that's okay. 

I really love this about CCSC. We provide a venue for people with different Christian perspectives to serve together.  For people outside the institution of the church, this comes as a surprise: often I hear people outside share that they view the church as argumentative and not unified.  That troubles me.

So do we have to agree on everything to work together?  Do you and I have to vote the same way to feed the hungry together?  Do you and I have to agree on what Jesus meant when he said, "I am the bread of life"?  Are Jesus's words meant to be taken only literally or also metaphorically?  Do we have to find consensus on these matters before we can come together as a Christian community to serve?

The answer is "no", we can agree to disagree and still work well together. What unites us is far more important than what divides us, and Jesus was clear that helping the poor, those who suffer, and the outcasts of society is a vital part of our faith walk.   

Below are CCSC's Core Values.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on them, so feel free to email me at

CCSC’s Core Values
The Christian Community Service Center (CCSC) is a coalition of churches working to alleviate poverty in the local community.  The ministry accomplishes this through various resources: volunteerism, in-kind donations, operating a resale shop, and cash donations from the private sector to include church, individual, foundation and corporate support. The ministry’s focus is to apply core business principles to the accomplishment of its mission so the agency is returning value to the community in an efficient and effective manner.
The organization’s core values are:
a.      Everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
b.      Staff and volunteers strive to live the gospel message.
c.       CCSC is an ecumenical group that serves everyone while respecting their religious, ethnic, or cultural differences.
d.      Out of respect for the diverse views that the member churches, volunteers and community members have on issues, CCSC does not engage in public policy work.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Patience & Strength

I recently sat through a client interview that was heart-breaking.  A couple about my age had their life changed two months ago when the husband was diagnosed with cancer.  Because his job is physical in nature, he cannot work post-surgery, and his employer does not offer disability insurance.  Meanwhile, their expenses are escalating. CCSC helped pay their rent and signed them up for our food assistance program.  He is receiving treatment in the medical center, and they are optimistic because the cancer was caught early.

His wife shared how hard this has been for them emotionally and talked about their need for patience.  They had to wait for the diagnosis; they are waiting to hear the results from surgery and subsequent treatment; they wait but want answers now.  She noted that their faith is giving them patience and strength

She wondered aloud how people cope without faith, and we agreed it would almost be like living without gravity.

So often when I speak on CCSC's mission I say that the clients inspire me, and this couple did. They have chosen to trust that God will not abandon them but will instead give them what they need: patience and strength.  Their trust is a gentle reminder to each of us that through the ups and downs of our lives, God is present and will give us what we need.