Despite the record-numbing cold this past week, I think God’s heart was warmed by the actions of His people.
A group of churches and individual Christians across Northeast Minneapolis rallied together Sunday through Wednesday—January 5 to January 8—to provide shelter, food and clothing to more than two dozen homeless people from their neighborhood.
When the decision was made to provide emergency shelter at Elim Church—where my family attends—congregants from Elim, Mill City, Abby Way and other Mission Northeast churches unleashed dozens of sleeping bags, air mattresses, blankets and pillows. One person called several of his friends and said, “I’m coming to pick up two bags of warm clothes from each of you.” He called them into action and held them accountable to the values of their Christian faith.
The satirical newspaper The Onion recently wrote a story about Christians caring for the poor titled, “Local Church Full of Brainwashed Idiots Feeds Town’s Poor Every Week.” Between the lines of satire, the truth is revealed: Christians find joy in our faith when we give ourselves to serve others.
Joy and fulfillment were on display in Northeast Minneapolis this week as members of these churches cared for those who don’t have warm, safe shelter. As the temperature dropped to -20, people dropped off essential items for those who were suffering. And despite the painful cold, they were smiling and happy to give.
Following Jesus and being the Body of Christ followed a different path this week, one that I think pleases God more than the tempting path of isolation. It also refreshed our souls to the possibility of how the Church can alleviate suffering when we team up together.
Let’s not wait until the next “polar vortex” plunges us to -20 to shock us into action.
Carl Nelson is president of Transform Minnesota and lives in Minneapolis with his wife Kari and 3 children.