One of my favourite shows on TV at the moment is a reality show called Extreme Makeover Home Edition. On this show the team travel around the United States totally rebuilding the homes of people who most deserve it. The standard prerequisite is that these families have it tough, but despite their circumstances they are making a huge difference in the communities where they live. For example there was a lady who adopted 8 children all with physical disabilities, a family whose home had no running water or working bathroom despite being in a relatively wealthy neighbourhood, and a mother with 4 boys who had escaped domestic violence only to buy a home, that past inspection mind you, but was riddled with termites and was unsafe to live in. This show is all about changing people’s lives, about giving them a fresh start, a new beginning.
Now I’m not talking a splash of paint here and a new couch there, I’m talking an entire new home in only 7 days!The family are sent on a holiday somewhere nice while the team, assisted by at least 300 volunteers from the community demolish the existing house and build a brand new fully furnished home and usually throw in a new car and pay off the mortgage! The designers take the time to get to know each family member and design bedrooms that they will love, they make it their job to make each person feel extra special.
Yesterday’s show made something click in my brain, a light went on and I had a new understanding. The family they were helping lived in Hawaii, not the tourist Hawaii but, I suspect, the real Hawaii. This family of six lived in a tiny house that was on the verge of collapsing into the river that ran next to it. Floods had washed away parts of the foundations but they had no where else to live. What was so amazing about this family is that the mother, Momi, despite her own situation, has helped over 9000 families on her island who were needy. Momi runs programs in a community center to assist those that have it rough, in fact this program helped her and when it closed due to lack of funds she took it on using her own welfare payments to keep it going… a-mazing! The team not only built them a brand new house on a new, stable site but they built them a brand new community centre so Momi could continue the work she does. 3000 people came out to help this project 3000!!
I was ashamed watching that show yesterday. As a Christian God is calling me and all other Christians to be His hands, feet and voice to the community we live in. We are called to help those less fortunate than ourselves, to reach out to those in need, to love the unlovable, meet the needs of the homeless, hungry, needy. This lady was doing an amazing job but it made me think… Why is the Church today so reluctant to look beyond itself and its own needs and reach out as God has commanded? Where are the community help programs, the food vans, clothing drives, working bees being run by the Church for the community? Why do we leave it all to ‘organisations’ like the Salvation Army or The Smith Family, or to the Government to provide these services? Shouldn’t we be part of this?
I then needed to shift the focus to a more personal level. It’s to easy to blame ‘the church’ for not doing a good enough job, the really tough question is ‘what am I doing to be God’s hands and feet in my community?’ That’s a tough question to ask yourself, but its necessary. If each individual is asking that question, is taking responsibility for their own contribution (and not relying on ‘the church’ to do it for them) we will see our community change.
I can’t help but watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition with tears in my eyes as I see the gratitude and the thankfulness from those that have a new start. The difference made in their lives is indescribable. My tears are tears of joy, but also tears of sadness. These families have a fresh start and a new life, but I cant help but wonder how much more their lives would change if Jesus were added to the mix. A new physical life is great, but a new spiritual life is even better.
Why are we so afraid to help those in need in our communities? Surely we must follow God’s lead by meeting their physical needs and introducing them to Jesus? What am I going to do to make a difference?
What do you do to make a difference in your community?