Reach Out Recap

I’ve enjoyed reading the various “Reach Out” stories posted this month, and each one inspired or challenged me for different reasons.

Here’s what I learned:

Mary Ellis reminded me to focus on the human element–to be careful not to allow the task to overshadow the person I’m doing the task for. This is true in all areas of life, isn’t it? So often, we can begin a project as an act of love only to become consumed by the project itself. But what people need most is time–human connection.

Here’s a snippet of her story: “But most of all, we prayed with them, listened to them, and demonstrated lessons taught by the Savior. Several of them joined our church afterwards. What did I gain from the experience? There, but for the grace of God go I. These people were no different from you or me. Loss of employment or a serious illness could place any of us into dire straits. I get down on my knees each night and ….” (Read the rest here)

Mary hinted at numerous truths in her story. I’d be curious to know what you gleaned from it.

In Love For a Felon by Kenneth W. Bangs, I was reminded of the importance of maintaining an authentic welcome mat, and of staying alert for divine appointments. God’s timing is always perfect, and He never wastes a moment. May we, as His children, never close a door He’s opened nor walk away from a wounded soul.

Here’s a blip of Kenneth’s story: “He nodded and started talking…told me his whole life story. I’d heard it so many times before…so hard, so violent. I prayed with him and told him to enjoy the fishing. He brought his grandson by several times and then stopped. I got a call from a local pastor. He told me Herschel had cancer, no insurance and asked if we could help. …” (You can read the rest here.)

I’d love to hear how Kenneth’s story impacted you.

Cara Putman’s Reach Out story reminded me that God is ALWAYS there, especially during the storms in life. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Jesus with skin on.” God’s love is never-ending, always flowing, but often, it comes to us through others. May we, as God’s children, daily be conduits of God’s love as we reach out to the hurting.

Here’s a snippet of her story: “After the tornadoes that ripped through Joplin, Missouri, last year, I’ve been burdened by their horrific paths of destruction. I first asked God what I could do when I saw the horrific images of Alabama. Then the weekend storms hit Joplin. A third of the town…gone.

It’s almost too much to fathom.

But the burden wouldn’t leave.” (Read the rest here.)

What impacted you most in Cara’s story?

Our final story this month comes from Ada Brownell. This one was very dear to my heart as I’m passionate about reaching out to the next generation. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s often said this current generation is the “unloved generation.” Our youth are craving adult interaction, acceptance, role models, unconditional love. It’s easy to point fingers and complain about “how things are,” but love goes a bit deeper and focuses on how things could be. Love looks past the behavior to the hurting heart beneath.

Here’s part of Ada’s story: “According to the last statistics I gathered, five million elementary-age U.S. children grow up with no supervision after school. Twenty-two million adolescents are unsupervised between 3 and 6 p.m. on a typical day, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s Child Care Bureau.” (Read the rest here.)

What impacted you most about Ada’s story?

More importantly, how have these stories motivated you to reach out this month? What have you done to actively share the love of Christ? Share it here so we can be motivated to do the same and so we can rejoice at the giver of love, Jesus Christ, who stirs us to act according to His will.

Once again, I want to give a loud shout-out to April’s reach out donors!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free book, and submit your “Reach Out” story for a chance to win a gift basket.

April’s donors include Mary Ellis with An Amish Family Reunion, Deborah Raney with Almost Forever, Cara Putman with A  Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island, Vannetta Chapman with Falling to Pieces, Rebecca Lyles with Winds of Wyoming, and Gina Holmes with Dry as Rain. (Read more about all these great books here, and show your appreciating by clicking on their names to visit their websites.)

Come back Thursday to see who won the gift basket and give-away.

(If you have a reach out story to share, send it to jenniferaslattery(at)gmail(dot)com.)

When Storms Hit

We lived in Louisiana when Katrina hit and saw first hand the devastation storms can bring, but we saw so much more! We saw communities unite, churches and Christians mobilize, and a blanket of love encompass the area. A short time after Katrina hit, when our city was full of storm refugees, the Billy Graham crusade came through. Storm victims were living in our cities’ churches, surrounded by Christ’s love, and our cities were filled with an influx of caring, serving, giving Christians coming to see the crusade. As I saw people actively demonstrate Christ’s love, I was reminded that even during the storm–especially during the storm–God was there.

Today’s post comes from multi-published author, Cara Putman. When a powerful tornado ravished Joplin, Missouri, God called her to be His hands and feet–to share His love with the hurting. Despite looming deadlines, family commitments, and all the other demands on her time, Cara accepted God’s call. Because of her obedience, many hurting families experienced the love of Christ.

http://www.wlfi.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=9248

At the end of May 2011 and beginning of June, I tackled a project that grew exponentially. A little idea that took on a force of its own with the help of local media. As a result massive amounts of time disappeared as I collected and sorted boxes and bags of items for Joplin.

After the tornados that ripped through Joplin, Missouri, last year, I’ve been burdened by their horrific paths of destruction. I first asked God what I could do when I saw the horrific images of Alabama. Then the weekend storms hit Joplin. A third of the town…gone.

It’s almost too much to fathom.

But the burden wouldn’t leave. So I kept praying. A donation didn’t seem like enough, though I did that, too. I wanted to do something tangible. Something the kids could participate in like giving of clothes and books to those who have lost everything.

I mentioned an idea to my pastor’s wife, and literally, in twenty-four hours God exploded it into something so much bigger. I love how He does that! Our church is a collection point for material goods to go to a church in Joplin where my pastor’s brother serves as a worship pastor. I sent out a facebook message to 41 friends (don’t you love social networking) and three local churches partnered with us. I worried about how we would transport the goods, and one of those churches had a box truck we used.

So what can we do?
• Pray. I absolutely believe prayer is key.
• Give. There are excellent organizations like Convoy of Hope and Samaritan’s Purse that are on the ground making a difference.
• If you want to help with physical items when a disaster strikes, make sure you work with a church or organization already on the ground there.
• In Joplin, we learned desperately needed items included:
o Baby food
o formula
o diapers
o kids’ clothes from infant on up
o toys and books are welcome too, but think small since we’ll have to transport everything.
o tarps in all shapes and sizes.
o hygiene products — everything from hotel sample sized to full sized

But those needs may change based on the disaster. I refuse to stand paralyzed in the face of disaster. Instead, I choose to do something and be the hands and feet of Christ to those in desperate need.

***

Cara C. Putman lives in Indiana with her husband and four children. She’s an attorney and a teacher at her church as well as lecturer at Purdue. She has loved reading and writing from a young age and now realizes it was all training for writing books. She loves bringing history and romance to life.

An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska and George Mason University School of Law, Cara left small town Nebraska and headed to Washington, D.C., to launch her career in public policy.

Cara is an author chasing hard after God as she lives a crazy life. She invites you to join her on that journey. Learn more at: http://www.caraputman.com, http://blog.caraputman.com, http://www.facebook.com/caraputman, http://www.twitter.com/cara_putman, and http://www.pinterest.com/caraputman.

A Wedding Transpires in Mackinac Island:

Attorney Alanna Stone vowed long ago to avoid Mackinac Island. Although it may seem the perfect place to heal, for Alanna it holds too many memories of a painful past.

But an exhausting high profile case and an urgent plea from her parents have brought Alanna home. Moving into the house next to Jonathan Covington doesn’t help her. Jonathan may have been her first love, but he was also her first lesson in betrayal. Now Alanna must protect her privacy and her heart. Then Secrets and a murder intersect, and she’s thrust into controversy again as tragedy turns public opinion against her and potentially her family.

For years, Jonathan has stubbornly resisted the urging of his family and friends to date, believing he’s already found the perfect woman. With Alanna’s return, he begins to wonder if he’s waited too long for someone who isn’t the right one after all.

We are to be Christ’s hands and feet, His instruments of love to a hurting world. Can you share a time when God called you to reach out to someone experiencing great loss or trial? Or perhaps you were the one struggling, and God loved you through others. Share your story here so we can all rejoice in God’s merciful, ever-reaching love.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free book, and submit your “Reach Out” story for a chance to win a gift basket.

April’s donors include Mary Ellis with An Amish Family Reunion, Deborah Raney with Almost Forever, Cara Putman with A  Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island, Vannetta Chapman with Falling to Pieces, Rebecca Lyles with Winds of Wyoming, and Gina Holmes with Dry as Rain. (Read more about all these great books here, and show your appreciating by clicking on their names to visit their websites.)