By Pastor Ben Hill (Reproduced with permission)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Picture, if you will, a beautiful meadow with the wind softly blowing the tall grass and dandelions, a barefoot child in light spring clothing, playing just an arms-length from a laughing and engaged mother, butterflies dancing daintily on the breeze. Or the care with which a mother lifts her newborn from a crib. Perhaps these are the images in your mind when you hear the word “gentleness.”
The word in Galatians that is translated into gentleness is the Greek word, ‘chrēstotēs’. It can also be translated as meekness. This word certainly does not mean “weakness” or “timidity”; rather, it means a humble attitude and appreciation for God, and a polite and restrained demeanor when dealing with our fellow man. The fruit of the Holy Spirit in a maturing and surrendered Christian is manifested as strength and authority, cushioned by humble and respectful (or gentle) dealings with others. Notice it doesn’t mean questioning or turning away from truth or the strength of one’s convictions. It is similar to the way submission to God and His control brings an ability to correct others with ease and patience rather than with an argument in anger and resentment.
As I was preparing my amazing father’s funeral message, God kept directing me to the fact that, looking back, I could clearly see the evidence of all the Fruits of the Spirit in my father’s life! But, the one that seemed most prominent to me was this one, “gentleness.” Daddy was indeed a Spirit-filled and “gentle” gentleman. He had the conviction to boldly and unapologetically preach the Truth of God’s Word, while at the same time treating everyone with kindness, humility, and respect…yes, with gentleness.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in this excerpt from his poem “The Village Blacksmith,” paints a wonderful word-picture of this strength and power, wrapped in soft velvet:
Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man…
Then he tells of the blacksmith sitting in church listening to his daughter sing:
It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.
Be gentle and show the love of Christ!
Ever wonder what happens when you donate your hard earned money to various nonprofit organizations? Where exactly your money goes? For what the donation is actually used? Whether or not the donation is managed wisely? Those are normal questions to ask. I’d love to address those questions for anyone considering donating to Life In Abundance (LIA).
As a non-profit, a large portion of the work that we do at LIA is dependent on the donations we receive throughout the year from private donors. Because we are a Christian faith-based nonprofit, we have found ourselves fairly limited in our ability to receive grant funding for our program. This is due, in part, because we include religious activity (eg, evangelism, prayer etc.) within the scope of the work that we do with our clients. We also encourage our clients to participate in certain faith-based activities (eg, finding a church home, actively serving in their church, and getting involved within their church community through small groups, etc). Although many foundations are happy to donate to worthy causes, many are not willing to do so when faith practices are encouraged or required of the population the organization serves. As disappointing as that may be, the Lord is faithful and continues to sustain LIA through private donations. Because of the importance of private funding, I want to share what we do with the dollars that are donated to the Life In Abundance ministry.
Life In Abundance is focused on strengthening communities in the Upstate. We offer sound biblical counseling as well as assistance to women transitioning out of crisis. Through our WINGS (Women in Need Gaining Strength) program, we help women receive the counseling they so desperately need, as well as connect them to much-needed community resources. Additionally, we provide hands-on help when needed. The resources to which we connect our clients are not always free, even though they may be significantly discounted. Our goal is to be help women receive whatever assistance is needed in order for them to get back on their feet while they move through a process of healing.
Here’s how your donation to LIA impacts the lives of the women and families we serve:
When and only when donor funding is present, LIA is able to offer sponsorships to women who can’t afford to pay for their own counseling due to financial hardship. These sponsorships provide a way for counselees to receive much-needed help and for our counselors to be moderately compensated for their services. Additionally, these sponsorships are strictly monitored and the clients who receive them are held accountable to keep scheduled appointments and to remain in compliance with the work assigned by counselors during sessions. Counseling fees at LIA are based on a sliding scale that is up to 75% lower than what most other counseling providers charge. Since the beginning of 2017, we have been able to provide sixty-eight sponsored counseling sessions, serving roughly seventeen women in need.
Vehicle Donations and Repairs:
In the last three years, LIA is proud to have been able to connect several single moms in need to vehicles which have been generously donated to the ministry. Although the vehicles themselves were donated, LIA still incurred the cost of the property taxes/tags and vehicle inspections to assure the road- worthiness of each vehicle at the time of the donation. Additionally, LIA has been blessed to be able to partner with a local automotive repair ministry to help cover the cost of automobile maintenance and repairs for women in need. Because of this partnership, the women we have been able to help are able to maintain a means of transportation to take their children to school, to get to work, to go to the grocery store, to go to doctor’s appointments, etc. These donations are critical and impact entire families. They are truly life-changing.
In the past year, LIA has been able to help several women who are attempting to re-enter the workforce after many years away from it. Through a partnership with a local computer training organization, LIA has provided clients with critical training on basic computer skills and Microsoft Office products to help these women increase their marketability as they search for employment. Additionally, LIA has been able to help another client receive professional help and job placement assistance after 30 years of struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia. Although we gladly orchestrated the training for these precious clients, those training services were not free to LIA.
Your donations matter. Your donations change lives.
At Life In Abundance, we know that you could choose to donate to a number of worthy organizations. We humbly ask that you might consider us for your future charitable giving. We remain grateful for your kind and generous help as we serve the Kingdom together.