A lifestyle of generosity strikes a chord with Wesleyans. Unselfish generosity flows directly from the heart of God, from the loving and serving side of holiness.
FIVE LOAF HOUSE
The old scenic Lake House at Pocono Lake in Pennsylvania had been a well-loved inn since 1918. It was closed, abandoned. There was joblessness and poverty in the area. Churches were receiving requests for help from the hungry and homeless. At the same time, the local food pantry lost its home.
In February, 2013, the people of Pocono Lake Wesleyan Church purchased the Lake House. An enormous amount of work lay ahead. Generous assistance was offered by Habitat for Humanity. Several sister churches in the area began to help, also. For over a year, a labor-intensive transformation has been taking place.
The food pantry is open again, serving 500 per month. The house is in use for public events. People have given their time and skills unselfishly in addition to donations. When completed, the second floor will be for transitional housing.
This was never the sort of generosity that ended with writing a check. Especially for Wesleyan pastors Revs. Carolynne and Luke Richards and other volunteers, it has been a deep commitment of time and self. But they are extending the Kingdom of God in their community.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1 KJV
Buckeye slumped into the folding chair when he was told the meal was free and he didn’t need to pay. His toothless grin faded. “I just wanted to give an offering.” Quickly, a basket was found and, with his smile restored, coins totaling $2.52 were received as the first-ever offering taken at the Garfield Park Neighborhood Ministry.
For two years, on every Thursday, a team from a Wesleyan church in the Indianapolis northern suburbs has made the 30-minute drive to Bethany Wesleyan in the under-resourced Garfield Park Neighborhood in the city. Every week Cyndi Harris shows up and helps prepare a home-cooked meal. Every week Pastor Cathy Howie and a faithful team of volunteers comes to work with Rev. Eric Key of Bethany, and they serve, enjoy fellowship, listen, pray, lead worship, teach, counsel, hug, and promise to come back.
The volunteers give and serve, but they also receive and learn. One important lesson learned from Buckeye: Everyone is a giver, and everyone is a receiver. Anything less is degrading.
Although there are financial commitments which help sustain the ministry, no doubt the greater treasure being offered is the people who offer themselves and their precious time—a great deal of time, over the long haul. Generosity of the holy variety often includes funding, but it often calls upon us to do more, to give ourselves.