I got "canned" in November of 1999, but I recall it like it was yesterday. I was not expecting it nor was my family, yet this event changed the way I see things even today, 20 years later.
November 3, 1999, my then 36-year-old bride underwent open-heart surgery to replace a very leaky mitral valve. As a younger husband and dad of four- and seven-year olds, my world was stretched and folded significantly. It was during this season of major surgery, intense recovery, and God's intentional teaching that I learned through His stretching and folding the significance of the ministry of the local church.
Our church family, through our adult Sunday school class, poured into our lives during this time. Clothes were washed and shirts were ironed, our home was cleaned, and meals regularly arrived to bless my family. Through these acts of love where a large local body became very small and intimate, God stretched and folded me, wrenching away pride in believing I was enough to meet the needs of the family. I was not. God already knew that yet He was lovingly teaching me through this 'one anothering' from the local church.
The icing on this 'humble pie' came in the form of four tall brown paper bags and a frozen turkey delivered to our door step just before Thanksgiving. This was the canning: our family was provided with a Thanksgiving food blessing through our local body. God used this season to humble me while providing for my family. Providing for us were the many within God's family. They had opportunity to offer and show love during a time of need.
In the book of Acts, Paul quotes Jesus as saying something that is familiar to many but radically foreign to our natural inclination and culture: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). In a situation like mine, in which I felt deeply blessed through the generosity of those around me, I also know that they, too, were blessed. In a selfless expression of love, both the giver and receiver are blessed.
As parents, we can share the joy and blessing of giving to others. While it's easy for all of us to be focused on what we want or need, serving others together as a family can bring perspective and blessing.
Serving others through your local church is a great way to minister. There are also several family-friendly volunteer opportunities around our Central Ohio community. Check out this list to get more info:
- Mid-Ohio Foodbank Lots of different activities like preparing market foods to guiding shoppers (Ideal for 16 and up; some opportunities for 11-15 years old accompanied with adult)
- Family Mentor Foundation Fill “buddy boxes” to help provide food for local children (Child-friendly for ages 4 and up)
- Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas child This internationally recognized gift initiative is fun for all ages. This year's national "collection week" is November 18-25, 2019, but there are actually year-round giving options and ideas on their website
- Ronald McDonald House Make blankets for child patients, pack snack bags, cook a meal or bake cookies for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House across from Nationwide Children's Hospital
- Cards From Christ (through Vineyard Church) All ages can take part in this opportunity to share the hope of Christ. Make or write Christmas cards to people incarcerated in the state of Ohio (Deadline to turn cards in is December 8)
- Seeds of Caring This organization curates and posts many volunteer events good for kids and families (opportunities for ages as young as 2!)
- United Way of Central Ohio Involved with many local organizations, the volunteer hub for United Way has a family-friendly filter option to see which opportunities are best for families
- Besa Besa curates hundreds of service projects throughout Central Ohio. Their website gives detailed information about each available project, including age requirements
- Point App This smartphone app was especially designed to help people find volunteer opportunities in the Columbus area. It's possible to search specifically for "family-friendly" options via the app.