Giving of your time, talents, and treasures
I have come to realize that giving of my time, money and effort in order to help others is the most rewarding and most important thing that we can do in our lives. I have been assisting a lady in a government housing project that I met through a church outreach program back in November. She is a single mom with four kids ranging from 7 to 14 years old, and when we originally met, she had no job, no phone, and no car. We were going around asking people to fill out a wish list for themselves and their kids for Christmas gifts. For her daughter, she put "Bed" on the form, and for herself, "Job". I quickly realized that this was true need staring me in the face, so I went back to speak with her some more.
She was on the verge of being evicted (keep in mind that there aren't too many places to go if you get evicted from the projects). I didn't really have a lot of extra money to spare during the holiday season, but we paid to catch up her rent through the end of last year. I am not bragging or prideful about this - I really just think it is the type of thing that we are all called to do by the Lord. The cool part of the story is that she had NO idea where this money would come from, and her daughter (who was involved in our kid's program) told her that they should pray about it. The next day, my wife and I showed up on her doorstep ready and willing to help. It was really cool to realize how God used us to answer this woman's prayers, and it started to strengthen her faith as well.
Believe it or not, she was being charged $100/month by the City of Austin for an ACCIDENTAL fire that had occurred in her previous unit, causing about $8,000 in damage. Her rent was only $119/month, so they were in essence doubling her rent. I couldn't believe that they wouldn't have an insurance policy for this. We got her in touch with Legal Aid, and they were able to get this wiped off for her. In fact, the management office had made so many bookkeeping errors, that her current rent is $11/month. Talk about an answered prayer!
One of the biggest needs she had was transportation in order to get a new social security card, birth certificate, and driver's license (all of which were lost in the fire), so I spent several days helping with this as well. We also helped her to get a bus pass for six months. Even though she has quite a few family members in the area, they are not much better off than she is - her mom has helped on a couple of occasions, especially with child care.
She has had a series of jobs over the past year, but nothing terrific as of yet. She just started another new job this week, and I am hopeful that it will pan out for her. I helped her to get a job interview a few months ago, but the manager seemed to be racist and wouldn't give her a chance, even though he was actively hiring a lot of people and we had a recommendation from one of the regional managers who is a friend of our family.
She has become my friend, and we sincerely want to help her succeed and make it out of the projects at some point. God has richly blessed me and my family and whenever I spend time with this lady, I realize that I have NO reason to complain about anything. We speak at least once a week on average, and I really feel invested in her life now, as does my wife.
I guess the moral of this story is to count your blessings and keep in mind that God calls us to "Love your neighbor as yourself." This is a high mandate, but it is a rewarding one as well, when you can actively impact someone for the better. God bless you if you read this entire thing - I just wanted to share it.