Meeting needs | A Reflection from CarePortal State DirectorGO Project
As a community, we celebrate when needs are met. But we rarely see or talk about the day-to-day happenings of those connections being made.
Below is a reflection we received from CarePortal Ohio State Director Janelle Shelton. She gives us an unfiltered look into her thoughts and experience as she reflects on coordinating these requests. All the phone calls, uncertainty, divine provision and beauty that is faith. Let’s dive in together:
This week, I was earning my stripes as a storyteller for our VBS kids. While I was studying and ruminating on the lessons I was preparing to teach them, God was working on a lesson for me all my own.
CarePortal launched in Fairfield County, Ohio in December 2015. We’ve seen God provide over and over again for local kids and local parents, often in unexpected ways. One trend early on was that we would often receive an unsolicited donation, only to have the need for that exact item or cash amount follow on its heels. We began storing and organizing such things to be the best stewards we could of all we’d been given.
However, we saw a slowdown this winter as our local county office experienced significant change in leadership and staff turn over. Some of the items we had sat for a very long time in storage units in Fairfield County, while our sister CarePortal communities were in need of some of those very items. I often wondered whether we should share the wealth, until I was compelled to by the tornadoes in Dayton. Some of the funds I’d been holding onto for a rainy day went into the purchase of gift cards for groceries for families who were affected by the storms. While those were being delivered, one young man actually gave his life to Christ – telling the pastor friend who brought them that he had been told God was his protector, and now he saw it for himself.
Meanwhile, Hamilton County churches had a repeated request for a toddler bed, and we had another request from another county where we’re not active quite yet for a bunkbed. Both of these were in storage and not yet needed here as well. I felt God prompt me to give them. I double checked my intuitions with the donors of these items, and we sent them along.
This week, within 10 minutes, we got requests for a bunkbed, a crib, and landline phones.
I will openly admit that I had an “oh no” moment realizing we’d just given away the bunkbed we had. I sent a message to another point person, who told me she was working on it – another foster parent had private messaged her on Facebook a couple of days before — offering a free bunkbed! Exactly what we’d given away!
The crib was at Life Church. The point person/pastor there was looking for a home for it when she opened up the CarePortal requests and delivered it to the caseworker directly.
The phones were provided by Christ United Methodist. And just like that, the needs were met!
The story has one more twist as the crib request prompted a conversation with a friend who told me she had two toddler beds, with mattresses, and a crib at her house that hadn’t sold at her rained-out yard sale. We’re welcome to them. So God replaced that, too!
We’ve also come to discover that some of the things we can’t use in our county are absolutely acceptable in other counties with modifications. So we’re learning how to share across county lines.
One of the sister ministries who helps us with beds helped Cincinnati with 42 bed frames this week. They could have hoarded them for their own ministry, but were open-handed and reinforced the lesson a local pastor put into words for me this afternoon as we were relating our request fulfilling stories to each other. She said, “God wants us to be rivers, not reservoirs.”
CarePortal gives us the joy of assisting God as He provides for his children and giving them an initial connection with a local church. If we allow his resources to flow through us, like a river, rather than holding them for the “in case its needed” moments, He’ll replenish them. If he can provide manna in the desert six days a week for 40 years, he can certainly replace a crib shared across a county line!
I know this is simple, not really at all profound, but it’s an encouragement to my spirit that God has a plan bigger than mine, which I cannot see, and He can be trusted with big things and little things. My job is to be a faithful steward — and sometimes that means trusting Him enough to give away what He’s given me — even if it’s not quite how I expected to do it.
His mercies are new every morning! Great is His faithfulness!
Thanks for being part of this ministry with me!
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