05 Oct Ohio Missions Trip Day 3 Lessons: Don’t Judge Too Quickly, Listen to God
By the time we had met with Sue and Rita at Job and Family Services in Southern Ohio Appalachia, we had driven 509 miles during our trip. It was our last day and Tawni and I were … tired. But we were also excited to get another perspective on Ohio Appalachia and how The Monkey Do Project can help.
Meeting with Sue and Rita was beneficial and eye-opening. They educated us on programs and we discussed how we could help. They also told us story-after-heartbreaking-story about how funds had been cut, layoffs affected the area and many of the programs that used to help people could no longer be funded (either because of the funding cuts or the lack of staff). One program gets a mere $1500 annually to help people. (Just let that sink in for a moment.)
The more we brainstormed about how Monkey Do Project can help (we’ll announce exciting partnerships with them soon!), the more we realized how much Appalachia needs extra “hands” (volunteers, funds, supplies, etc.). It was then that Sue and Rita told us this story about a young man trying to make his life better.
Appalachia People Trying To Help Themselves
One of this misconceptions about people in poverty in the U.S. is that they are lazy and are playing the system just so that don’t have to work. Unfortunately, this may be true for a very small minority, but the vast majority of those in Appalachia are trying to change their lives.
That was the case with this young man.
You see, “A” is a college student. He doesn’t have a running car (the “transportation issue” again) and he bums rides from fellow classmates. In some cases, the college professors pick him up and drop him off. (Seriously.) He often doesn’t have food for lunch, and people in his clinical office randomly, oops, buy too much so they can share with him.
“A” is studying something like social work where he wants to help children. Clearly he has a real heart for giving. Recently, he had a setback–his apartment had bedbugs. It was a setback because he was doing some clinicals that were part of his required coursework. If he missed this part of the requirement, it would put him behind. So “A” had a choice: he could keep it a secret and complete his clinicals, or he could tell the clinical office and suspend his coursework until his situation was cleared up.
Guess which one “A” did?
The Integrity of Appalachian People
Instead of keeping it a secret and continuing on with his life, “A” voluntarily told his clinical site because he didn’t want to put anyone in jeopardy.
Think about that for a moment: Would you tell a secret if it threatened to disrupt your entire life and put your plans on hold to make a better life for yourself? I have to admit, I’m not sure that I would’ve been so forthcoming.
“A” is currently having his apartment treated and isn’t able to continue his studies. He is keeping his clothing in his car (which doesn’t work) so that they don’t become contaminated with bedbugs. He doesn’t have a bed because he had to get rid of the contaminated one.
As board member Tawni and I left the meeting that day, we were both touched. We drove over to the homeless shelter to deliver bins and bins of new clothes. As we were driving, we passed a local furniture store and we both looked at each other. God was telling us the same thing.
After we dropped off the clothes at the local homeless shelter, we discussed if we should “drop in” on that local furniture store and maybe get a bed donation from them.
Listen to God
As we entered the large furniture store, the lights were dimmed and it seemed like they were closed. As we made our way through the furniture to the back, we found 80-year-old owner Wayne sitting in a small office.
“Is this your business?” I asked.
“It’s not a business as much as God’s work,” Wayne answered. Tawni and I looked at each other and knew we made the right choice.
As we explained the situation to Wayne, he listened, asked a few questions and then agreed to donate a mattress and box springs to this young man so he could continue with his life. Brought to tears, Tawni and I hugged Wayne. We went to the car to call Sue back and make arrangements to pick up the bed. As we came back in to talk to Wayne, he had his Bible open to Philippians … the same exact book in the Bible we use as our motivation for The Monkey Do Project.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others -Philippians 2:4(NIV)
If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.
We also bought “A” all new bedding, pillows, sheets and even a few gift cards so he wouldn’t have to worry about lunch for a while.
So, the next time you think people are taking advantage of “the system,” I hope you remember “A’s” story.
And, for the love of all that is good, always listen to God.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” -Matthew 7:1-2
Your donations help us to fund projects like the one we described here. We need your help so we can help others. Won’t you consider making a donation today? We can use any amount–no matter how small or large.
Read about day one of the trip.
Read about day two of the trip.