This article shares what my home church – Church of Christ Fellowship, Clayton has been up to in loving our local community with no strings attached.
It is a close adaptation of what I wrote and submitted for the church Annual Report, and it complements much of what has already been shared from the pulpit throughout our December / Love Loud message series. Senior Pastor Chee-Seng Fah provided a good summary during his Christmas Day message.
2020 was naturally challenged by COVID-19 and its related lockdowns, particularly for those of us in Melbourne. However, it didn’t stopped us from continuing to follow in obedience to representing Jesus to our local community. In this way, God demonstrated that when we make ourselves available to Him, He continues to work and build His church.
Free Meal Delivery
Summary video link: YouTube video link [6 Dec 2020]
Even though the offer of meals to those in need began earlier in April, this really was an opening of doors, enabling us to grow relationships with the recipients. We didn’t just address the core need of food and hunger, but we really were investing and showing God’s love consistently. For some of our most vulnerable, the week-after-week visits by drivers with bags of bread & food - these all were tangible expressions of God’s care and love.
Sow A Seed
Summary video link: YouTube video link [13 Dec 2020]
With this context established, the launching of Sow a Seed created a focal point whereby our church community could establish a fund that would enable us to meet specific and targeted needs of applicants. Fundraising for Sow a Seed has generated over $46K. To date, 18 applications have been received. In assessing the needs of these applications, we have disbursed slightly over $8K in costs to 9 of the applicants (averaging $900/applicant). It is worth mentioning that every care is taken to ensure we maximise the impact of every recipient.
Some of the support that we continue to provide includes: payment of 1-month rent, council rates, groceries, home improvement, car registration (we had a car donated!), assistance and guidance to apply for Centrelink payments, being there for them at court hearings, taking applicants shopping for clothes, counsellor referencing to praying and delivering Bibles to bring love, hope and encouragement to those struggling, hurting, lonely, discouraged, depressed and abused.
Key similarities between the program include the assessment and relational approach to caring for our recipients. The adoption and formalisation of our needs assessment methodology has ensured a professional standard of care, where Bill and the team place recipients at the heart of every interaction; representing God and His love.
Our principles of love and care underpin the decision-making process, and the team constantly go above and beyond in showing our recipients the loving and generous nature of the God we serve.
Developing our team of 43 volunteers has been a discipleship journey in itself. Each volunteer can testify to the rewarding experience of hearing God move in the lives of our recipients. As we make ourselves available to being used by God, He has overwhelmingly impacted and made a lasting impression on us – the coordinators, as He has touched and moved the hearts of our recipients.
As we connected in their homes, listening and praying with these members of our local community, God has come alive and transformed our hearts. For some of our drivers, bringing the kids along (after lockdown eased) was a powerful opportunity to impart to the next generation – this is how we can show and live out the love of God and make the Word of God come alive!
General Testimonies & Impact
The video testimonies shared during Christmas are a mere sampling of the greater collection of stories – all testifying to God’s assurance and deliverance. As believers, we may not realise the significance of our giving – whether it is in monetary form, or as donated goods. For those of us who have had the privilege of visiting and connecting with our recipients, it has been a true honour bestowed from God to see and hear first-hand the magnitude of gratitude.
To see the joy in the faces, to hear their excitement. to be with someone who has, up to that point felt loneliness and isolation and now being accepted and loved by a whole community of faith. And even greater yet – to be able to share simply that we bring this love of God to our recipients – with NO strings attached – these moments are transformational, and indeed life-saving.
So, to the church family – as most of us have had to endure two extended lockdown periods, being at home – take heart and be encouraged. Our ability as a church family to continue spreading the Gospel, to bringing in new believers, to making a difference in the lives of people who really need to know and experience our loving God – this Great Commission – has continued forward through all this work of your Local Vision team and Love Loud.
We started out with the intention to simply support and to offer a helping hand during this time of pandemic. To date, we have reinforced and strengthen the faith of several families facing crisis. We have saved at least two lives – offering a tangible alternative to situations involving potential suicide. We are well on the way to seeing salvation in new believers coming to know to Christ. Praise God!
So, we thank ALL our dedicated volunteers who have answered His calling in 2020 during these desperate times – you are all Saints who represented Jesus in this harvest field. The team we recognise is indeed representative of God’s Kingdom here in Melbourne, with members joining from other churches: Regeneration Church, Faith Christian Church, Kingston City Church plus even some of our own Chinese service members and Café Care.
Nic Lee works by day as a Business Analyst Consultant whilst, outside of business hours, maintains an IT support & website services business. He volunteers with 89.9 LightFM (Christian Community Radio). Nic has served for over twenty years in his local church, in worship, technology consulting, life group leading and event management.