Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Good Samaritans?

Some of you may have heard the recent story of the homeless "good Samaritan," who was stabbed to death in New York last week. It's difficult sometimes, to determine just what to comment on and to share with our supporters. The main goal of the Mission is always to glorify God, but included in this mission is our desire to affect a change in view regarding those we serve.

The greatest irony (if I can use that word) seems to be the title given to the man who died. While it was true that he did step in to save a woman who was having a vicious altercation with some man on the street, the correlation with the parable of Christ is strangely skewed.

In the parable found in Luke 10:25-37, the man lying on the road, left to die, ignored by everyone who passed by, he was the one helped by the "Good" Samaritan. The point was to emphasize that we are to love our neighbors. Neighbors referring to everyone in need. Regardless of race, religion, or creed.

In the story related by the associated press, there were no good Samaritans. At least 7 people passed by during the course of an hour. One even stopped to take a photo with his phone. Not one of them stopped to help, called the police, or stayed with the man bleeding on the sidewalk.

Some speculate that these people "didn't want to get involved." Perhaps they thought he was simply passed out drunk or were concerned about being taken advantage of. Fear. The Bible also tells us that "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). Very active words, to describe what is required to make a difference in this world: actions. Do something: volunteer, write a check... Don't just "feel bad" about it. Sometimes, as in the case of the homeless man in New York, all it takes is a phone call.

We are so grateful for the many compassionate people who support our ministry among the "forgotten" men and women in Michigan's capital area. You are taking action and making a difference. Thank you for your desire and determination to help us help others.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Needs a little vanilla...

The City Rescue Mission of Lansing is a faith ministry. What that means is that we do not have any "steady" sources of revenue, i.e. grants, federal/state funds, etc. All our services are provided solely by donations. Bottom line: people choose to give.

What this also means is that sometimes we come pretty close to scraping the bottom of the barrel, but we never have. As our executive director likes to say, "We make people aware of our needs, and if they feel God desires them to give, they do."

A few weeks ago, Roger, our director of operations needed to go make a run to one of our supporting churches. This church keeps one of our yellow "Mission barrels" in their lobby. There are a few churches and organizations in the area who host these food collection barrels for us. Volunteer drivers or our director of operations will make a run out to empty them as the need arises (see our website homepage,, for video).

This day, Roger happened to notice, as he was picking up the bags from the barrel, a bottle of vanilla was laying all by itself. He tucked it into a bag, and as he left the building to continue his errands, he thought about that bottle of vanilla. It's not a usual donation; most items we get are boxed or canned goods. He wondered just how they were going to use that solitary bottle of vanilla.

As he arrived back at the Mission and began unloading, Kevin, one of the cooks, walked past from the kitchen.

"I'm heading out to the store, Roger," he said, "I need to pick up a bottle of vanilla."

Imagine his surprise when Roger reached into a bag and handed him the vanilla. Such a small, ordinary thing that symbolizes the amazing experience of relying every day on the Lord's provision. Whoever gave that bottle could hardly imagine it would arrive at the perfect time. But that's what God's timing always is, perfect.