Over the last month of social distancing and quarantine, we have heard stories of our church family generously giving resources, encouragement, and care to one another. So many of you have been taking what you have and sharing with neighbors, our Hillside family, friends, or even strangers.
If you’ve been to the grocery store at all during the last month, you probably have felt the same weight of anxiety that many are experiencing. There is a heavy sense of fear as you pass people in aisles and any attempt at eye contact is met with avoidance. The whole world is feeling a collective sense of fear, worry, and anxiety. What should the response of a Christian be? How does a follower of Jesus respond to a global crisis? There may not be a profound theological answer, but we can draw from the words of Jesus in John 14:34-35:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
We respond very simply, in love. Jesus said that he did not come to be served, but to serve. It’s easy to discount the roll of toilet paper you gave to your neighbor as not a big deal. It is a big deal! To freely give something that the world is stockpiling in anxiety and fear is an act of generosity and love that is light in the darkness. Don’t discount the simple acts of love and care for your neighbor that speak loudly of who Christ is in you. Hillside, we see you living out John 14:34-35 in your neighborhoods and communities!
Be encouraged today by some beautiful stories of generosity, love, and care from within our Hillside family. These simple, but extravagant ways that you have loved one another is making an impact for the Kingdom!
- For Easter this year, because of COVID-19 and being asked to shelter at home, my spouse came up with a great idea to reach out and connect with our neighbors. We created gift bags for each house on our street. In each bag were some plastic eggs with candy in it and a Lifebook. A Lifebook is a ministry tool created to help people share the Gospel with friends and neighbors in a non-threatening way. It was the entire book of Mark, including notes from readers about how it’s impacting them. We also included an invite to Easter service with Hillside in your Home.
The most rewarding part of this entire endeavor was watching our kids, not just help pack the bags on Friday, but get up early Saturday morning and walk the street delivering the bags. They were greeted by many neighbors with smiles and thanks. We heard from most neighbors throughout the day, saying thanks and that it was a blessing. It was a blessing to us to be able to show our kids how something that could be seen as small was able to advance the Gospel around our neighborhood.
- I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve a family that is near and dear to me. Both parents are healthcare professionals, working full-time out of the home while trying to manage the kids’ schooling throughout the day. The youngest child, in particular, has been suffering from isolation and the frustration of this overwhelming “new normal.” In hearing about the frustration of their circumstances, I immediately wanted to help come up with solutions. I offered the possibility of checking in with their children daily by phone or video chat and helping them manage their daily assignments. This genuinely thrilled and relieved the mother. I have been doing this daily to try and bear some of the burdens for this great family. With the youngest who is struggling, I talk to him about his day, the things he’s enjoying, and the things that are frustrating. He tells me what he has completed and lets me know his plans. I can tell he is genuinely eager for the connection. By offering my time and presence, even virtually to these kids, their mother now feels more confident about their wellbeing.
- Members of a community group have been traveling all over town to get toilet paper that they can deliver to other members of the group.
- One person who lives alone decided to drive to her children and grandchildren’s home to visit them from the driveway. Both she and her extended family members enjoyed the company!
- A couple decided to deliver a meal to one of the singles in our church family. They intended to bless her with food (which they did), but the surprise of seeing them and visiting in the front yard for just a few minutes did so much more to encourage this person.
- Another person’s mom fell, so she dropped everything to care for her mom. She reached out to friends in the church and immediately received prayer as well as multiple offers to bring food and help in other ways. She received blessings from her friends who so readily prayed for her, and her friends counted it a privilege to pray. This person hesitated to accept food offers but later consented. While it eased her burden to have a ready-made meal delivered, it blessed the provider even more so by giving her a sense of purpose for the day, an outing from a quiet home, and face-to-face fellowship (while acceptably socially distant) with a friend!
- On Easter Sunday, many families in our church enjoyed their own makeshift celebrations with laughter and companionship of at least a few people. Five singles met virtually on a video-call to share memories of past Easter celebrations and to pray for each other. Not accustomed to the deafening quiet of this particular day, each mentioned a growing distaste toward staying home alone. Yet each also expressed thankfulness for “Hillside in Your Home” videos by Pastor Dave, John, Carlton, and for the video-call.
Each one of these believers acted out Hebrews 3:13a, “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’” and Acts 2:42, “…devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” They acted as Pastor Dave spurred us on to do last Sunday: showing up, stepping up, and collaborating with each other. People loving people.