I pastor a mid size church in west Indianapolis. Where we are located we see lots of need. We see families struggle with feeding their families, rampant addiction problems, and homelessness camped out under bridges. We try to do our best to help those in need. We provide a food pantry once a month to struggling families. We have a weekly meal to provide a delicious dinner for free and give parents a night off from cooking. We dispense bread through our Community Center daily, and offer clothes as much as 25 cents, and sometimes free for those really hurting. We provide fantastic preschool program that offers several scholarships to those in our community. We work with the local school to help provide school supplies; we partner with the city to offer free meals during summer. We also help support other ministries and charities. We give to the local Edna Martin Center, Missions over seas, schools, and we give some emergency assistance to individuals.
I recognize that there are a lot of other charities that may do similar things, and I am grateful for the other organizations that are committed to making their local communities a better place. I mention all we do not to boast or gloat. I know there are other churches and charities that do even more. I mention all this because it shows what we have in common with other non-profit organizations, and government charity programs. The truth is the Church is not unique in its work for the poor. However, the church does have a distinct difference in its work for the hurting that government programs and other charities cannot provide.
This morning a woman who had battled and defeated cancer found out after 5 years of being cancer free that it had returned. The first time cancer took most of her voice, and left her with scar tissue in her throat that needs to be cleaned out every so often. Now caring for her granddaughter on her own the cancer has returned. This is where the church became the church. We gathered around her, laid hands upon her and prayed for her. Then several members of the church who hardly knew this woman began making arrangements to go to her appointments with her. The church offered not just to provide charity, the church offered to be her family. This is what the church has the power to do that others can't, to be family together, to support one another not just with money, not just with donations, but with inclusion into a family.But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” - Gal 4:4-6