By Stephen Abbott
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
It was toward the end of May when I attended the first annual Reentry Conference of South Carolina as an intern with Christ Mission. It was there that I learned of the ministry of Destiny House which provides housing for men transitioning from prison back to society. Along with Reverend Leroy Cannon, I visited one local site that provided housing for twenty-four men. We met people who told us Spirit-filled stories of transformation and changed lives. This ministry provided a needed bridge for these men, the need for housing, and this was just one site out of four.
Speaking with the founder of Destiny House, we learned of more needs. There were needs for clothes of all kinds, shoes of all sizes, new underwear and socks, hygiene products, non-perishable food, and a functional washing machine, needs that Reverend Cannon and I sought to meet. This became my assignment as intern of Christ Mission to turn to my other intern site at St. Andrew’s Lutheran on Broad River Road in Columbia, led by Pastor John Trump and Deacon Sandra Holland. It was there I would tell the story of Destiny House and seek, in coordination with Christ Mission at Reformation Lutheran to meet those needs through a collection drive.
And wow…did the people of St. Andrew’s Lutheran and Christ Mission at Reformation show up to meet those needs! In the three short weeks that the drive took place, these two churches working together collected food, two large bins full of clothes and shoes, chairs, kitchen utensils, hygiene products, and even money to purchase a washing machine with plenty left over to further the ministry of Destiny House and the valuable service that Reverend Murray, Destiny House’s founder provides.
The drive was a great success, and it warms my heart to see the love that these churches responded to a need with. This was an amazing example of the church following the commandment of Christ to love and through that love showing their discipleship as the live in the abundance of God. Even more than the churches showing their love for others in the generosity of their giving, something else about this drive was inspiring. That inspiration came from the churches’ partnership.
We are called as disciples to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give a cool drink to those that are thirsty. In short, we are called to serve as Christ did selflessly and wholly and to identify with those that are in the margins. But, at the same time, no one person and no one church can or should do this alone. The needs are great, and resources can be few. This drive showed what can happen when we, as people of Christ, enter partnerships. When we bring what we have and can together with others, the resources to meet needs grow. And even more than that we become the Church, a diversity of people that act in unity of purpose in love for one another.
I close this with the words of Mother Teresa. “What I can do, you cannot. What you can do, I cannot. But together we can do something beautiful for God.”