For decades, the Lord has steadily introduced Tenth members to vulnerable people in Philadelphia. As we are all now aware, to use a word like vulnerable is now a massive understatement. Before the COVID-19 crisis, Tenth’s immigrants and homeless neighbors lacked basic resources. As we are now more than 75 days into the lockdown, any margin these neighbors built into their life has dissolved and the relationships developed through the efforts of Tenth’s Mercy Commission and other charities are essential.
This of course is not a one-sided situation. We as church members live to serve in situations such as this—not because we want people to suffer, but because our Master gives us a deeper wisdom than the world has to offer. We know it is more blessed to give than to receive. Hopefully you are taking opportunities to lean into this blessing through your personal network. As a church, we welcome you to give to our May Project of the Month, which is focused on giving to our homeless neighbors and to SPEAK. SPEAK is an exciting and important ESL ministry at Kirkbride School to immigrant families in South Philadelphia.
Before you decide one way or another how to engage in what Jesus called “almsgiving,” let us provide a little more context to our request. First, since COVID-19 hit Philadelphia, we have been praying for opportunities to minister to the most vulnerable communities in our city. Second, this money (primarily used to buy grocery gift cards) is accompanying the holistic care we seek to provide for these friends of Tenth. Third, while we mourn the crisis, because the venue for our meetings has shifted out of the public elementary school and into Zoom chats, we have much greater freedom to share the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Before this, we respected the school’s rules about focusing on ESL instead of evangelism, but now there are no restrictions on the topics we can discuss. I hope you see why we are both mourning and rejoicing at the Lord’s mysterious providence.
Let me conclude sharing a story from Sunday, May 10. Following strict protocols for health and safety, members of the Mercy Commission set up tables in front of Tenth with appropriate distancing and precaution. Then, Joe Park and I (Enrique) went to Chipotle to pick up burritos. We were discouraged to find out they lost our order and would not be able to process it in time to feed our neighbors. We knew logistics would be a challenge during this pandemic, but we soon rejoiced that we were not in control. Seeing Qdoba down the street, we ran over there and learned that they had time to accommodate our request. After rushing back to the church to pass out the food, we were blessed to hand out our last burrito to the last homeless man in line. All of these friends also received a Bible tract which we pray feeds their soul just as the burritos feed their bodies. As Rudy, Sunlight, Kevin, Joe, and I cleaned up the tables and the empty Qdoba bags, our hearts were full. Of course, that is at best the tertiary goal of giving. On our best days, we first give out of worship to God, second to care for his image bearers, and third to receive his blessing.
This is just one story, but as you can see it is an exciting time to be generous. On behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ, we invite you to share in the excitement and receive the blessing of giving to this important Project of the Month. As you do, you will join us in the worshipful act of blessing our vulnerable neighbors in their time of need.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Enrique Leal and Gavin Lymberopoulos. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org