In Genesis 12:1-3 God is calling upon Abraham, calling him out to a place unknown and into trusting God, that He might bless him and others through him. We read:
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
It’s often easiest to stay in the places we are comfortable. You might think that Abraham did just that – but if he did, we likely wouldn’t be having this dialogue right now. God had created Abraham with all that he needed to step into what was before him, and he wasn’t sending him out to do it alone. And because Abraham not only believed God for what He spoke, but also trusted Him, He was obedient and responded to God’s call and God did indeed go on to follow through on His Word. Abraham was blessed that he could be a blessing to others – and in this case a “nation sized” group of others.
Maybe that seems like a tall order and you think you’re not ready to be a blessing to a “nation sized” group of other people. Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m no Abraham, and there’s no way God can use me like that.”
Well, I know a few people who are just like you and me. They are people who maybe thought that at one point in time too. But then they also heard, and trusted, “I can’t, but God CAN.” Surely, if you’re thinking that you have to do it on your own, you’re going to be limited by the whispers of doubt. But if you understand that with God all things are possible, He is WITH you, and that He wouldn’t put it before you if He hadn’t already prepared you for it – well, then with Him you might just end up blessing a “nation sized” group of other people before you know it.
A few years ago, people like Marla Galka and Ariana Shelton along with a small group newly invested in the ministry of Safe Families were faced with an opportunity to step in to new territory. The Safe Families team at SPL was in its earliest stages of forming, learning, training, and understanding how they could best support the ministry and serve families in the community. They relied on God and the staff of Illini Christian Ministries to help find their way as the ministry established new roots in Macon County.
Two years ago, as they worked to connect with potential host families and establish a Care Closet filled with resources, Marla was approached by Katie Dye of Illini Christian Ministries with a special request. With Easter quickly approaching, they hoped to be able to provide Easter baskets for children in current Host family placements with Safe Families. They stepped in to the challenge, and the blessings came.
There were many generous donations from team members and from the SPL congregation, including Baby bibs, pacifiers, baby book, small baby toys, toothbrushes, small toys, bubbles, candy, sippy cups, books, candy, jump ropes, stuffed animals, balls, socks, nail polish, earbuds, head bands, small games, and more! An additional blessing was that the toothbrushes and tooth paste were donated by Decatur’s Corley Family Dental for all the children – they also offered to do free dental exams for the children.
Because of the tremendous generosity, the team was able to fill and package 20 baskets for boys and girls ranging in age from 6 months to 15 years! It was such an enjoyable time packing the baskets, and several people within the church who did not know each other before had the opportunity to connect and get to know each other better through the packing process.
Marla Galka shared, “It was such a blessing knowing we were making these children’s Easter a little brighter during this difficult time, letting them know that they were loved and cared for.”
After completing the baskets, they were picked up and delivered by Illini Christian Ministries Safe Families for Children team out of Champaign. The SPL Safe Families team received the following thanks from their leadership:
St. Paul’s Congregation,
I want to thank you all so much for the beautiful Easter baskets you put together for the families we’re serving with Safe Families. We were so excited to receive them and know the kids will be even more excited. They are truly beyond any expectations – so much care and love clearly went in to putting them together! It is such a blessing to our ministry to have active, excited church partners. We’re so thankful for you! May you all have a wonderful, blessed Easter!
With joy, Katie Dye
Because of the COVID pandemic last year, this project was not able to happen. Easter looked alot different for all of us. But, with precautions in place this year, the possibilities are endless for bringing a big blessing to these children once again. Would you consider stepping in to be a part of this blessing?
The Safe Families for Children Team leaders are encouraging everyone who can, to get involved this year by supplying items for the baskets or by helping pack the the baskets. The team is collecting items now through March 17, 2021 at SPL, and they plan to fill and package the almost 30 needed baskets this year on Sunday, March 21st following worship (around 11:30am in the Dining Room).
Interested in getting involved in Safe Families for Children in other ways? Visit SPLDECATUR.ORG/FORMS and complete the Safe Families interest form to get connected with Marla Galka and Ariana Shelton.