On Thursday, September 14th, “Channel 7” published a news piece about an elderly couple living in deplorable conditions. As a team, we watched the report and were all moved to do something about it after watching it. We deliberated a little about what was the best approach or what to do to make sure our actions are realistic and meaningful. We decided to pack our truck with cleaning supplies, some groceries and made our way over to assist.
We were met there by a community leader, Mr. Perry, who was already busy cleaning the yard. A connection happened instantly as Mr. Perry, with a very animated personality, welcomed us and shared with us about his local ministry and work. We then got to work on the yard and cleaned the house along with him.
While we were working, many people stopped by to drop groceries and other donated items to the couple. They saw us working, asked us what to do with what they brought, and where the elderly couple was. There were at least 10 people that dropped by. And yet, none of them offered to help clean.
I am not here to complain that no one helped, rather learn from this experience. In the last blog, I wrote about recency bias and how it can affect our decisions and motivation. Well, this past week I saw it play out.
That elderly couple I assume, have been living in those same conditions for some time already. But until the story hit the media, was there a surge of response to meet the couple’s needs.
In the last blog, I wrote of how good it would be to be proactive rather than reactive, and what transpired last Friday gave a perfect case study of this notion. Why wait until the last hour to make a difference in your community.
Surely there are some positive things to report on: people helping with donations, the ministry of human development step in and the city council cleaning up the alley beside the house. Even if the intervention came delayed, it’s better than nothing.
But as I reflect on all that happened I think the highlight for me was meeting Mr. Perry. He has a ministry that feeds the homeless and continues to work with the children of his area that are in need. He showed us pictures of his cooking and his ministry and he was beyond excited to partner with us. Stepping in to help the couple was a key part of it, and a story that we are following closely and would certainly like to follow up on. But thinking about it, the blessing was not only going to the couple’s aid but also meeting Mr. Perry and start building what will hopefully be a long and productive partnership- something which we had been praying about in children’s ministry.
I also wonder what would have happened if we had just dropped off our groceries when we saw someone already cleaning. Would we have just driven off?
Or what would have happened if we didn’t do anything at all and just dismissed the report? We would miss the opportunity to meet a great leader and the opportunity to assist the couple in need- a double-sided opportunity in hindsight.
Yes, action is better than inaction. But when you do act, don’t fail to see the true purpose in why you do what you do. Let’s not get distracted by the small things and fail to see the bigger picture and other opportunities peeking out at us. At Least that’s what I learned this past week.
It starts with feeling the desire to meet someone’s need, but don’t limit yourself to just dropping off what you have for them at the curb. I think we ought to be intentional, relational, stay a little longer, and don’t miss the true reason why you are there. For us, as a ministry team, it was equally important to assist but also knew that God was opening other doors through our desire to be of impact in our community. There is always more than meets the eye, we just need to be a bit more intentional to find it.