By Carol Round – “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality”—Romans 12:13 (NIV).
While volunteering at our church’s Amazing Grace free clothes closet, I love interacting with those in need of assistance. I’m often blessed by those who share their story. Stories of struggling to put food on the table, pay for rent, or purchase gas for their vehicle. Some must rely on others to transport them to doctor visits, shopping trips, or even to receive assistance. It can be heartbreaking.
Although some of our shoppers have allowed their situations to define their lives, others share their stories of God’s grace. They express gratitude for our ministry and the ministries of others in our community.
While volunteering recently, I met a woman in her mid-40s. But she wasn’t just a recipient of our ministry. She volunteers to help others in need. And she wasn’t fearful of being judged as she began to share her story with me that day.
Avoiding Judgment of Others
As we worked together—sorting clothes, organizing racks, and assisting shoppers—I listened to Melissa share her story. She’d driven from California to Oklahoma in July to bury her only brother who passed away in late June. While she has two sisters, Melissa is not close to them. Her female siblings chose a path of drugs and unhealthy relationships. Melissa chose Jesus.
Melissa, while admitting she hasn’t always made the right choices, knows she can’t make it through life without our Savior and Lord. As she shared her story of family division and the disagreements over her brother’s belongings, Melissa began to cry—not out of pity, but because she misses her brother.
“I don’t want his belongings,” she told me. She drove over 1,800 miles to bury her brother. Her only desire is to return home with a few sentimental mementos. However, her sisters, and even a few cousins, have jumped into the fray. Melissa trusts Jesus to help settle the dispute. In the meantime, she is relying on the hospitality of our church and boldly sharing her stories of how God is working in her life. Her hope is in Him.
Why We Need to Share our Stories
Author and Co-Founder of “Chronic Joy,” Cindee Snider Re, says, “Sharing our stories is a vital part of doing life together. The disciples shared their stories and changed the world, not because they were extraordinary men, but because they told about an extraordinary God.”
In Ephesians 3:7-10, the Apostle Paul writes, “This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities. And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels” (MSG).
I’ve learned people respond to our stories, of how God has and is working in our lives. We don’t have to be public speakers. However, God will use us to share our stories of grace. Even the least equipped, like myself, are being used for His glory. We serve an extraordinary God and others need to hear the Good News. Are you sharing your story?