“Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything.” Jesus in Mark 11:22-24, The Message
A mountain got moved this past weekend in the life of a family in our fellowship. Maybe it wasn't a Mount Kilimanjaro-sized one but as those things go, size is relative: whether you're a high school kid trying to raise a thousand dollars for a missions trip or a middle-aged man trying to raise a hundred thousand dollars to build an orphanage from ground-level all peaks loom large. In the case of the Hanson family, their particular alp was a $12,000-sized one, the fees they incurred when they chose to adopt a little boy this past fall.
|Looks like a happy boy to me|
A few posts back, I wrote about their challenge (see Cartwheeling in the sanctuary: What the love of God can make us do). Last fall, they said “yes” to what they felt was the Lord's prompting to make room in their home for yet another orphan. They'd been down this road before adopting a set of Colombian preschool triplets several years ago but decided that if the need was there they would have room for one more. At the time, they figured that juncture was a few months “down the road”. In reality, it was but a few short weeks out and just like that little Liam became a part of their family. Since it was a domestic adoption the fees incurred were relatively low – only $12,000 – but in a single median income family that five figure number was a bit overwhelming to say the least. And the clock was ticking (they had less than five months to raise the money before interest began to kick in).
At our annual Thanksbringing event, Refuge's annual November service at which we bring thanks and then share it together with a turkey dinner and all the fixings, Tina, our treasurer announced that our $10,000 roof we had put on this past summer was now paid in full. Sometime in that gathering, Paula, a member of Refuge, shared publicly that now that we have the roof paid off our next project should be to help the Hansons raise what they needed for Liam's adoption. I'm embarrassed to say now that my response to that was to put a little bucket out on the back table for anyone who wanted to donate to the cause as well as welcome any tax-deductible designated contributions in our weekly offering (neither of which was very successful.) Gratefully, the folks who go to Refuge are far more creative than that.
|Where there's a will there's a way|
The first group to wade into the fray was a handful of elementary and middle school girls (also noted in my previous post). These girls got together on a weekend, brainstormed, and made food and craft items to sell both in the entryway at Refuge as well as at a holiday craft sale in Rice Lake netting a couple of hundred dollars for their efforts. Kale, inspired by my anecdote of what our daughter Emma had done to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief when she was in elementary school, cartwheeled twice across the front of our sanctuary and won the acclaim of everyone in our fellowship as well as $10 for the Hansons for risking life and limb. But something more than a stunt was playing out in front of us. Kari was watching and in that twirl of the cartwheel a germ of an idea began. Like a pebble dropped into a still pond, those two cartwheels began a ripple effect in Kari's mind. What if we could do something equally unique and laugh our way to the bank?
That's how the Taco Feed and Game Night benefit for the Hansons got its start: all because someone was goofing off in church for a good cause. Kari pooled her thoughts with a few others and Monica, who loves to host people around food, and the thing began to grow. In the meantime, the Hansons benefitted from other fund raising efforts through things like a pancake feed at Applebees in Eau Claire to donations and matching grants from other Christian fellowships and organizations. Within a few short months, $11,000 had been raised so that the Sunday before the taco feed and game night event Monica challenged everyone with this: “Let's put the Hansons over the top!”
|It's "go" time|
This is what happened on the Tonight Show
Now everyone tells me I'm wrong but I'm pretty certain the whole thing was rigged for I managed to find all four raw eggs before the stunt was over. I picked the first one myself (which was raw) but after that Kale's three-year-old daughter, Lara, was choosing them for both of us. I think her daddy coached her well. There's nothing quite like seeing your pastor doused in egg to bring out hilarity in the fellowship. But what the heck, it was for a great cause and at the end of it $140 had been added to the coffer.
Here's what happened at Refuge
We had all hoped for hundreds of people to come through that day to enjoy the food and the fun. Unfortunately, we fell far short of that mark. However, that night, when it was all through that little fund-raiser of ours had raised $1,600. Remarkable. It not only put that family over the top but it spoke in big large letters to all of us of God's faithfulness when we say “yes” to his leadership.
I love being a part of such a group of people - people who love the Lord Jesus, who love a good taco when they can get one, who love to play games and share with one another out of what means they have. It takes getting egged and turns it into a great honor to know it helped moved that mountain.
|This picture tells a great story|