BY MARCUS CASTEEL, ASSOCIATE PASTOR OF CARE CENTER
What is a Green Bag? I know, to many, it’s the bag found at the colorful display at each door of the church. People pick one up on their way out of church and fill them up, providing food for the Care Center. Once a year we ask the entire church to bring in twice as many bags in October than we normally receive in a month. This may seem like the purpose is to get more food for our friends in need, and it is, but that is really a secondary goal. The main reason we have Green Bags is to give you an opportunity to connect with what God is doing in the Care Center and what He is wanting to do in you.
A Green Bag isn’t about more food for our friends. It’s a vessel of hope, dignity and change.
The Green Bag provides hope to our friends. We believe every item donated is given by God through you. That blessing is then picked from the shelf and brought into homes in our communities by our friends. As that God-filled blessing of hope sits in their home waiting to be used, it’s a reminder that someone cares. It is a reminder of how a stranger, someone they will likely never meet, cares for them. We never get to see how God uses that hope to help a mother get through another tough day or how that hope fills a child’s stomach who needs to focus on learning and not be distracted by hunger.
The Green Bag provides dignity to our friends. The items you bring are very valuable ones for us. They fill the holes on the shelves for the items we are not able to get donated by others. This allows our pantry to look and function like a grocery store. That simple transformation provides dignity back to those who have been stripped of it due to their circumstances. When you see the face of the new friend trying out the Care Center for the first time they are scared, apprehensive and struggling with pride. When they see the grocery store and not a pantry, you can tell God replaces all that they were feeling with peace and dignity.
The Green Bag provides change to both our friends and to you! Every time a friend comes to the Care Center it builds up trust and love and makes us credible. God can use that credibility in ways to change them. We invite them into the Co-op where they will move their life to a place of sustainability and not need the Care Center. We also use that credibility as we invite them to church. Close to 100 of our friends have taken the invitation to come to Grace in 2016.
It also provides change to you and your family. Resources you could have used for yourself are given generously to others. As you donate, each time, both you and your family are being changed. The first act of providing a bag once a year often moves to monthly giving, or even weekly. Many take the next step and start serving in the Care Center. And it is in serving when your heart is impacted in a deeper way and becomes truly life changing.
Are you willing to bring Hope, Dignity and Change? If so, please join us and bring in Green Bags. If you are not doing this monthly, will you consider doing so? Will you accept a challenge to bring them back weekly? You can find out more information at gracechurch.us/carecenter.
If you are ready for a change, join us in the Care Center.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, -Jesus as recorded in Matthew 25:35
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UPDATE: A huge THANK YOU Grace Church! Becuase of you, we surpassed our goal of 2,000 green bags, which means our Care Center will be well stocked through the winter!