Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tantrum Tuesday!! Not Very Christian of Them

Our church turned us away!!

Okay, that sounds a bit harsh, but basically that's what they did. We have been going to the same church for almost 6 years. We have tried a few different churches also, but this is our "home church". I have worked in the youth ministries, the boys go to Sunday School, Jordan is active in the youth group, and we try to make it every Sunday service. While some of us like our church more than others, it is essentially home. A place we go to worship God and fellowship with others. Over the years we have made many friends within our church and participated in many events the church has hosted. We love our church family.

Being a single parent means that the budget is usually pretty tight, but more so during the holiday. Over the past 7 years we have received help during Christmas from different organizations. The first Christmas after we moved out of my parents house a neighbor gave our local Lions Club our name to add us to the list of people who could use some help from The Untied Way. It was a huge blessing because I had lost my job earlier that year. The following year our name was again enter by a neighbor. The year after that I contacted the Lions Club and said we could handle Christmas on our own and thanked them for their help the previous years. While things were still pretty tight I was able to provide Christmas for my kids. The year my nephew lived with us our school entered our names for holiday help through "Holiday Heroes". It's like "Shop With A Cop", but the EMT and Firefighters shop with the kids. The boys loved it, they picked out gifts for themselves that would be wrapped as gifts from Mom. Last year we were on our own, and managed just fine. I had to get really creative with some of their gifts, but they loved what they received.

This year was the first year I had personally requested help for our family. Like many other people who are struggling I went a church. Not just any church, but OUR church. It would have been easier for me to go to a church where I didn't know anyone and confess "I need help". Instead I swallowed my pride and reached out to the ones I know. I mean this is our church family, family helps each other. I knew they had holiday help available because I have donated to it in the past.

We were running late for service, there were only a few people and only one greeter in the lobby. Ironically the greeter was the same person who welcomed us to the church 6 years ago. When I asked about holiday help he was excited to help us. He told me that he and Pastor had just been talking about how they wished they knew who from our congregation needed help. The greeter assured me that they could help us out and he would talk to Pastor.

The following week I stopped to talk to Pastor and mentioned how hard it was to reach out people I knew and let them know were struggling. I had asked about participating in "Gift-mart" then sticking around to volunteer at the event. "Gift-mart" is a program the two campuses of our church puts on for low income families. Members of our church donate items for the event and families sign up to come and buy the items at deep discounts. He told me that I could not sign up as a family to receive items from the event, but I could volunteer. That our campus hosts the event for the families of one particular local school ONLY. While they would like to help out more people the church was only helping out this school. I inquired if the church would be able to help out my family this year, and was told he'd have to see what they could come up with but surely they could help us.

This past Sunday, after Pastor congratulated everyone on how successful "gift-mart" had been. How thankful he was that we could help so many families that needed that little extra help this season. How excited he was that our event may be featured in our local paper. That he was very pleased that local families will be able to provide their children with wonderful Christmas. After service I stopped to talk to Pastor just to chat (like I do every Sunday on our way out the door) and he told me just as I was walking away that he was sorry that our church probably wouldn't be able to help us. That their focus was on the families from the school. To say the least, I was not real impressed.

To make the whole situation seem worse, that same afternoon I received a text from one of Jordan's friends asking about different (expensive) gifts that he could buy for Jordan. So our church of 6 years can't do anything to help us out, but here is a 12/13 year old boy asking to help out. He just wanted to make sure Jordan had a great Christmas. While I was touched by Jordan's friend's offer I could not allow this kid to buy things for my family. I told him the best gift he could give Jordan was to be a good friend to him.

*No worries, my boys will have presents under the tree. There are bought, wrapped, and tucked away until Christmas. While there may not be many there will be enough. They may not be expensive, but they will be treasured. God always provides!!