God has given all kinds of gifts to the church. You can read about these in Romans 12 and in 1 Corinthians 12. Mingled with all the spectacular gifts (of healings, prophecies, words of wisdom and discernment of spirits, for example) are others which seem, frankly, more mundane. Paul says “God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.” (1 Cor 12:28) Every time I read this passage, I am struck by the way ‘helping’ comes right after miracles and gifts of healing!

Helping is not often perceived as being ‘all that special’. Perhaps it’s because we often help others out of our strengths that we don’t think very much about it. If I can help someone to do something, maybe that’s because I can do that thing and so it doesn’t really seem very unusual to me. But helping someone, when viewed from the other side, is so very precious. If you have ever been on the receiving end of help, you know that it really does indeed make all the difference!

Helping in practical ways that are borne out of a prayerful desire to serve God with all that we are and all that we have is something that blesses God’s heart, because it actually reflects His character. Over the past few months, church members have been bringing tinned food and clothing to church, working with the Salvation Army and other local churches to serve the poor and needy in the area in practical ways. John tells us “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18) We’ve been trying to live out those verses by helping others.

Last week, Captain Adrian Lee came to collect the latest batch of stuff we’ve collected.

When you look at the amount of things that have been given in just a month, it’s amazing.

We are immensely grateful: to Mark and Debbie for having the courage to step out in faith and urge us to continue helping the poor, rather than viewing it as an ‘occasional’ ministry; to Chris and Adrian for working with the Salvation Army in Goldthorpe and for being willing to allow us to be involved in this work; to our local church leadership for being willing to take up new challenges and provide new opportunities for helping; to members of the Methodist Church at Great Houghton who have joined in so enthusiastically with this project; to every church member for being willing to give up a little of what they have to meet the needs of those who have nothing. All those helped are local families known personally to Chris and Adrian.

I’m quite certain that most of those involved in this ministry don’t really think they are doing anything very special. They are helping others in ways that seem ‘obvious’ to them. I’m equally certain that those on the receiving end of the ministry view it very differently, as a lifeline and a real blessing.

Jesus said, “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matt 10:42) Giving a tin of beans or a packet of soup may seem to us to be that ‘cup of cold water’: nothing very special, certainly nothing very spiritual. But when we offer those in need something that they need with love in our hearts, then we are reflecting the generosity and kindness of God and that must always be a good thing!