I’m the pastor of First Baptist Church Lee’s Summit on the edge of downtown Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Like the rest of the planet, our church and community have been thrown for a loop by the spread of the Coronavirus and its accompanying limitations on public gatherings.
On Sunday, March 22, our second week of online-only worship, I announced that the church would be giving away half of everything we received for the next week to our neighbors who had been impacted by Coronavirus restrictions. Instead of wringing our hands and being extra careful with our money, we would take the counter-intuitive step of being extra generous. 25% of our total receipts would go to Lee’s Summit Social Services, a helping agency that does heroic work with people in need in our community. Another 25% of our total receipts would be given directly to employees of restaurants, bars, salons, and shops in downtown Lee’s Summit who had lost jobs or lost income because of the restrictions.
The people of the church responded with remarkable generosity and this week will be one of my favorite weeks I’ve ever had as a pastor, even if there is a pandemic. I get to deliver a check for over $19,000 to Lee’s Summit Social Services to help in their vital work in our community’s recovery from the current crisis. And I get to deliver over $19,000 worth of Hy-vee gift cards to downtown workers who aren’t getting paid right now (gift cards that will go even further because Hy-vee graciously agreed to sell them to us with a 3% discount to help with the cause). Our downtown neighbors can use the cards to buy groceries or gas or whatever they need. I’ve spent much of today having wonderful phone conversations and email exchanges with downtown business owners expressing their shock and gratitude at learning about our plan.
I love it when steps of faith are rewarded. I love it when the church gets to be a conduit for God’s blessing to people outside its walls. I love it when church members who have amazed me for ten years with their love of God and neighbor raise the bar once again. I love it when Satan’s plans to bring despair to an unemployed bartender get thwarted by an 85-year-old Baptist lady who is not going to let some virus stop her from bringing her tithe check up to the church.
God is good. And his people at First Baptist Church Lee’s Summit are generous!
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