Friday, July 16, 2010

Caring for the needy among us

Five years ago, Cornerstone Fellowship in Livermore, California came up with the idea for Rimz & Ribz, a combination car-show/barbecue activity for the family. The day was designed with one thing in mind: be an outreach to car buffs and barbecue nuts.

Aside from the cars, a house band played rock ‘n roll music, quality barbecue lunch was served at $10 per head, and this year offered the kickoff for a Chili Cookoff. The cooking contest actually got underway in May when our satellite church in Brentwood hosted its own Rimz & Ribz event, at which a Chili Cookoff and Rib Cookoff occurred. Brentwood extended the challenge to offer an opportunity to witness to a non-church goer in splitting the cookoff duties.

Foodies and car afficionados meander about the parking lot. As they walk around, a buzz occurs about how active Cornerstone is in the community and worldwide. To wit:

• On Mondays, Serve the City serves up 100 meals to the homeless at a partner church, the Vineyard, in Livermore. Some 20 volunteers dole out the food and build relationships with those coming through the doors. Clothing is also available.

• Throughout the month, the church collects good to distribute to the needy in our community. On the second Saturday of the month, 40 volunteers meet in Vineyard’s parking lot to distribute upwards of 70 boxes to needy families. Fresh eggs, flour, sugar, tortillas, bread, potatoes, canned goods, diapers and toiletries go out to families.

• Cornerstone just started giving English lessons to Latinos to help them improve their chances of landing a job.

• Cornerstone supports a growing Rohi orphanage in the slums of Nakuru, Kenya, a town of 800,000. The orphanage provides food, clothing and an education.

• Our church partners with Children’s Water Foundation and Meaningful Life International to dig fresh-water wells in Ghana, so that villages can survive and thrive. Fresh water is essential to life in sub-Sahara Africa.

• More than 300 Cornerstone people are going to devastated Haiti this summer as part of a short-term mission. Short-term missionaries spend eight days rebuilding an orphanage, sharing God’s word in a tent city, caring for orphans and healing people through medicine.

You get the point. I go to Cornerstone because I believe in its mission to care for the needy, in the midst of our own community and worldwide where we think we can make a difference by sharing God’s love for others.

Jesus gave us the command to care for the needy among us in Matthew 25:40: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

What’s my part? I cook for that homeless meal once a month, my wife and I help with the food distribution every other month and I’m on the construction team going to Haiti, leaving July 31. Plus, I write and teach about using good food to share God’s love.

These are things I believe in because Jesus said it was important for us, his followers, to care for those in need. How do we share the gospel to people whose stomach’s are growling because of hunger? How do we share God’s love for someone who is shivering because she doesn’t own a coat?

This post is meant to encourage you to get involved. Although I won Saturday’s Chili Cookoff, I entered so that I could share the importance of caring for others, perhaps through food. Everyone has some kind of gift to share with others. Stop making excuses. Just do it.

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