Last year, our church – Evangel Baptist – had a goal for our inaugural year of our new ministry of giving 20 back packs to needy families in our community. We ended up giving 120! Focusing on the two closest elementary schools to our church, we purchased back packs and filled them with supplies based on the schools’ supply lists for their grades. The guidance counselors at the schools distributed them to the children on opening day 2012.
This year we tried doing it differently. We had a back pack bash – a party celebrating the new school year! It took a lot more work to do it this way. Before our guests arrived I had a brief chat with our volunteers for the party. I told them we were doing it this way because it was more practical and Biblical.
Practically, it must be hard for moms and dads to send their kids to school unprepared. Many families can’t afford all the supplies their children need. Without our help they would arrive at school with a great disadvantage. From the kids’ perspective there is the humiliation of not having what other kids have; the basics. As a parent, I can imagine how awful the first day of school must feel. Last year they did get back packs from us, but this year parents and kids arrived at school with what they needed. Awesome!
That leads into the Biblical approach to what we did. There’s the giving to the needy thing, of course. But there’s also the face-to-face aspect of what we were doing. It’s not that we need the credit. It’s that the beneficiaries of our generosity can see that we are real people living among them that care about them. We care about them because we love Jesus and want to be like him. He was about more than giving people what they needed materially, he strove to make personal connections with every person he met. For our Savior, doing good wasn’t just a transaction – it was interaction. We made some great connections that day.
I had worked with the counselors at the schools to provide a flier to parents back in May. Those in attendance had put their info on the fliers and returned them to the schools, and the schools forwarded them to me. We had sent out invitations over the summer and did our best to make it a big deal. Pizza, chips, cookies and some prizes made it a great day.
I was able to share these two reasons for the Back Pack Bash to the full house on the day of the party. Bibles were offered for free and many were taken. Awesome.
Thanks to the generosity of Evangel – in more ways than just money – people got a great glimpse into who Jesus is and who we strive to be.