Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

Archive for the tag “Warm Up Winter”

Warm Up Winter: What You Had To Say

Earlier this month, we asked you to help us Warm Up Winter by giving your good quality clothing to bless thousands of vulnerable people in Cape Town. Here’s what some of you had to say about the experience:

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The Common Ground Church youth from Frequency visited Christine Revell Children’s Home to drop off their Warm Up Winter bags

“We had a good conversation in our small group about where the clothing should go and discussed how we could give in a way that would promote relationship, be responsible and advance the Gospel. We were deciding whether to give to a partner organization or to a lady that one of our group is friendly with who lives in an informal settlement in Diep River (with the intention that she distribute items among the community). In the end, we gave to The Warehouse and the leaders and I made the suggestion that we  go as a group and visit the lady in Diep River at a later date just to build relationship with her.” – Theresa

One small group posed for a quick photo during their Warm Up Winter clothing sort

One small group poses for a quick photo during their Warm Up Winter clothing sort

“We dropped off our bags at U-turn and have decided to help a children’s home I volunteer at by providing each child with a pair of PJ’s to warm them up.  I had to take the bags to U-turn on my own as I was the only one available during work hours, but we’ve arranged to go to the children’s home on a Saturday morning with the whole group.” – Robyn

“One member of our small group went through her wardrobe and put aside many things to give away, and then a couple of days later decided that she had not been rigorous enough and went through her wardrobe again to find even more items to give away!” – Theresa

Manuela from the Constantiaberg AM congregation delivers clothes to Living Grace in Muizenberg

Manuela, from the Constantiaberg AM congregation, delivers clothes to Living Grace in Muizenberg

“We really tried to consider the dignity of the people we were giving to by sorting, folding and ironing the clothes nicely. We also prayed that these clothes would impact the lives of those who wore them and make them feel special.” – Shelley

Maegan and Emily ,from the Rondebosch PM congregation. diligently ironing the clothes before delivery

Maegan and Emily, from the Rondebosch PM congregation. diligently ironing clothes before delivery

“Last year’s campaign started to challenge me to not just give clothes that I didn’t want but also clothes which I was attached to. This year, I was even more challenged to give away some of my new stuff. After letting some of my precious ‘garments’ go, I started to experience a peace and a sense that this was obviously the right thing to do. This was a surprise as I thought that I would experience a sense of loss, or doubt as to whether it was really necessary to give away that suit. I guessed God showed me that if you are prepared to give up that which is close to you for His sake He will respond by working His Spirit in and through you.” – Nico

Getting in some play time during the Frequency clothing drop at Christine Revell Children's Home

Getting in some play time during the Frequency clothing drop at Christine Revell Children’s Home

Do you have any stories from Warm Up Winter?

P.S. How you helped Warm Up Winter (video) and How a traffic light encounter changed my idea of giving

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How a traffic light encounter changed my idea of giving

Just another church clothing drive. That’s what Fuel Team member Caroline Maile thought of Warm Up Winter before one experience changed her mind.

Photo Credit: jenny downing via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: jenny downing via Compfight cc

I honestly never really thought much about Warm Up Winter other than that it was a great opportunity to clean out my cupboards. I knew it would help someone somewhere along the line but I didn’t expect to feel the real weight of what we were doing or ever find out whose lives we might be impacting. But my whole perception of the campaign changed drastically this year on the way to drop off my small group’s clothing collection.

It all started with a mix up. My small group had decided to give the clothes we’d gathered and sorted to one organisation, but we got the drop off details confused and so had to change our plan to give to Westlake United Church Trust instead. Initially, I was a bit upset as we’d prayed about it and I’d felt that our original organisation was the one that really needed the clothes. Little did I know that this was all part of God’s plan.

On our way to Westlake to drop off the clothes, we stopped at traffic lights in Claremont and I noticed a guy standing next to our car with the warmest smile. I smiled back at him and then I noticed that he was holding a crutch in his right arm and a sign board in his left.

I never usually read these signs because they usually say the same thing: “dear madam/sir in need of a job and money pls, have 5 kids to feed God bless.” But this guy seemed different so I took a moment to read his sign. It said, “All im asking for is clothes to keep warm and anything else you have to give please, thank you and God bless.”

I laughed out loud at the thought of God’s sense of humour. People don’t usually carry around spare clothes in their car, so this guy was really taking a chance out of pure desperation, but we happened to have a boot full of warm clothes. This was all he was asking for and we had it. We pulled off to the side of the road and I chose a bag for him filled with some smart shirts, jackets, pants, new shoes and warm scarves. As I walked closer to him I noticed he had tears streaming down his cheeks. He was so incredibly grateful for this single bag of clothing.

I took the opportunity to ask him his name and to get to know a little bit more about him. I told him a bit about myself and that these clothes were a blessing from God. I told him that God loved him and was looking after him even though his life might be really tough right now. I encouraged him to not give up hope and to pray to Jesus. The more I spoke, the more he cried.

When I asked him about his limp and his life on the streets, he told me that he’d been using drugs as an escape and that he’d had a stroke as a result which had damaged the whole left-side of his body. He had no use of his left hand and could barely use his left leg. I asked him if he was still using drugs and he told me that he wasn’t because God had warned him that the next time it would be his life. I asked if I could pray for him as I felt a word for him from God on my heart. I prayed for healing, restoration and a real revelation of Christ in his life. Afterwards, he threw his arms around me as best he could and thanked me. I was filled with such joy and my heart overflowed with love and a deep desire to change the world.

It’s crazy how God used us to bless this guy and to give him a sense of hope and dignity. We were also able to remind him that God cares deeply for us and loves us even in the midst of our suffering. This encounter also really changed my perception on giving. I’m now more aware of the opportunities we are given to give and the greater plans that God has for us to bless and be blessed.

So not only was someone’s life warmed by the clothes we were able to give them but my heart was also warmed and changed by this simple act of giving.

Do you have a Warm Up Winter story? We’d love to hear it!

P.S. Other great articles on generosity: How I’ve Learnt To Give and Minding The Gap

Video: How You Helped Warm Up Winter

Earlier this month, we asked you to help us spread the warmth during the cold and rainy Cape Town winter by giving of your good quality clothes and blankets to bless those in need. We called it Warm Up Winter.

Here’s a short video clip to highlight just some of the impact your generosity has had:

Thank you to everyone who supported by dropping off clothes with our WUW partner organisations! Do you have a story from Warm Up Winter? Please email to let us know!

WUW Prayer Pointers

As you gather and deliver your clothing for Warm Up Winter, here are some things to keep praying for…

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That we would freshly see vulnerable people the way that Christ sees them – as image bearers of God. 

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

The clothes people give often reveal how they see vulnerable people. Ask that God reveals any prejudices or wrong thinking you might have about vulnerable people. Pray that we would see all people as image bearers of God and treat others with dignity.

We would more deeply understand what it means to be stewards of our things – not owners. 

Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” When we more deeply understand the sacrifice Christ made for us, and when we more fully grasp His deep love for us, it becomes easier to give with gratitude. Ask God to keep deepening your understanding of the sacrifice He made for you. Ask God to give you some new revelation about the stewardship of your life for His glory.

Ask God what role you play in His redemption and restoration plans for vulnerable people in our city. 

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

We want to be the kind of people that are constantly hearing from and responding obediently to God. In the Bible, it is clear that God has a special concern for vulnerable people. Ask God to reveal his heart for vulnerable people in our city. Ask him to show you how to respond, not just once a year, but every day in the way you steward your influence, time, money, relationships, choices and things.

Ask God to give you a fresh revelation of His grace towards you. 

2 Corinthians 8: 1 – 3 says, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord.”

The churches of Macedonia gave in response to God’s grace – because they understood and loved the God they served. When you understand grace, circumstances take a back seat. Your giving is not determined by your debt-to-income ratios, financial indexes, leading economic indicators, or tax code. No – your giving is motivated by God’s grace!

Thank you for journeying with us this year! We’d love to hear your thoughts about this year’s Warm Up Winter campaign. Email us photos and reflections to info@commongood.org.za. If you missed any of our WUW blog posts you can read them here. FB_profile pic

 

A Friend in Need

Have you ever tried to build a friendship with someone from a different background to your own? In today’s post, Christine Martin Van Wyk shares the story of her friendship with Janvier – and shows why pushing past the difficulties is so worth it. By Christine Martin Van Wyk 

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Meeting Janvier

I met a homeless man online. My job means that I start my day with over 100 emails waiting for me in my inbox. Then the back-and-forth begins. In all these mails, I receive a lot of spam and sign-up’s. God used one sign-up in particular, I believe, to gently shift my perspective, and not so gently grip my heart:

“Hi Christine 
I’m so glad to receive from you a detailed program of DNA course and I 
take this opportunity to confirm my attendance to BOTH sessions (Monday 
28 January and Monday 4 February). If any change occur from you, please
 let me know via e-mail as I do not have a cell phone at moment. I have 
access to the City Libraries Internet for one hour every day from Monday
to Saturday! Concerning if I’m a vegetarian or not, I can say that I’m
not because I eat any kind of food! Once again I thank you so much and
may God bless you abundantly!  C u soon!
 Janvier Ntahomvukiye”

That was it. The simplicity of asking me to email rather than call; the blunt explanation of his gut wrenching situation; the resourcefulness of using a library; and the fact that he wasn’t a vegetarian.

Building a relationship

Over the next three months, Janvier joined my flying squad of back-and-forth emails. I found out that he speaks English, French, Russian, Swahili, Kirundi and a little bit of Spanish. I learnt that he’d been working as a chauffeur before being retrenched, and that he had lived in a shelter until he could no longer afford it. He wrote of how “the street life was not for him”.

That was how I got to know him, and build a relationship with him. I told him about NETwork, and organised to meet him after church services. We met to check in, to have coffee, and for me to give him the train tickets that my small group had sponsored. He was also able to take part in the Job Readiness Programme at NETwork. Through this he was able to renew his driver’s license (also sponsored by some ever-so-loving small group members), find work (currently as a driver for a cab company), and even meet a roommate.

More than just a “charity-case”

The important part of this story is that it is not a success story – it’s a relationship. Janvier is my friend. And it hasn’t been easy. Amid planning my wedding, I was challenged about how I stewarded my finances (flower budgets could have paid room rental). Janvier also had a run-in with the police, and there was a domestic upheaval which saw Janvier back on the streets.

When the impulse to give up becomes strong, I remember the first time I almost gave up on my friend. The time when I noticed that he hadn’t attended church two Sundays in a row. In all honesty, I thought he’d given up on church and given up on God – that the gravity of his situation (he was still sleeping in a park at that stage) had taken over and that he had decided to throw in the towel. I teetered on the edge of feeling like I had been taken advantage of – thinking that maybe once Janvier had realised that I wasn’t going to pay his way out of poverty, he’d moved along.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. After emailing him, he replied days later saying that he’d been beaten and mugged, and had had to be hospitalized. To top it off, he spoke words that thawed my heart. “I was too embarrassed to come to church C,” he wrote. “They also took my shoes. I can’t come to church without shoes,” he added.

There was a genuine necessity to build a friendship with Janvier, in order for me to be able to help him. Simply meeting his material needs wouldn’t have been helpful. When I met him, I thought that money and a steady job were what he needs. But those were things that would have met his foremost needs, but not his innermost needs. What he needs is for someone to walk with him, to hear him, to be his friend. And step in when he needs help, like I would for anyone else who I call my friend.

Christine is a member of Common Ground and is the Rondebosch AM Administrator. To read more posts in our Warm Up Winter blog series click hereFB_profile pic

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