Sermon Summary (8/6/17) “How God Changes Us: Ouflow of Grace” (Matthew 25:31-40)
We’re in our final session of “Connecting to Grace: How God Changes Us,” today, serving, the outflow of grace. Are there dates on your calendar that you can point to, that day changed my life? It was a Sunday in the fall of 1986. A Methodist lay person from the next town came to talk to the Men and Boys breakfast about Habitat for Humanity. I went home and told Rosemary that I think we’ve found something that we can sink our teeth into. For the next 15 years, Habitat became a calling, as a volunteer, a board member, fund raiser, building chair and a leader of blitz builds in both Connecticut and Columbia. We led church groups every summer giving up half our vacation. It was a calling.
I think if you asked Steve Malinckrodt, even though it’s his job, he would tell you that Serve, Inc. was a calling, too. Steve is another United Methodist lay person. Other United Methodist lay persons I’d like to tell you of are Keith and Karen Jaspers. Keith is a businessman from Springfield who founded Rainbow Network (www.rainbownetwork.org), a ministry to Nicaragua. Keith believes that Matthew 25 is a commandment. We are required to serve the least of these among us. From 1995 to 2002, Keith and Karen founded and funded Rainbow Network. Since then it was grown to serve 120 rural villages, 50,000 villagers, the poorest of the poor, using a holistic approach of health, education, housing and economic development.
“I was thirsty and you gave me a drink.” Every village has a well proving safe water, a life-saving change over 20 years.
“I was hungry..” In Rainbow’s 22 years they have served 50,000,000 meals, a dime a meal for children, mothers, malnourished adults.
“I was a stranger..” Serving the poorest of the poor.
“I was naked…” Mel West, an early Board Member has organized 40 containers that go to Nicaragua and elsewhere. He urged my to have my church hold a “panty party” for the women of the village saying “And Rick, remember you don’t treat the poor poorly.”
“I was sick and you cared for me.” They employ 10 doctors who have made 700,000 visits charging 50 cents to a dollar. They’ve built 1000 homes with $13 mortgages that go to build more.
“I was in prison..” There are no prisons.
In addition they have made 95,000 microloans averaging $280 for six months to capitalize cottage industries. There is a school in every village and 50,000 have learned to read and write and 1800 have graduated from high school, many returning to lead the next generation.
Grace flows to us and through us, and transforms the world. Amen.