Tag Archive: relief

Boxes of Love

Photo by Aemiessence Fine Arts. www.aemiessence.com

Photo by Aemiessence Fine Arts. www.aemiessence.com

The power of modern technology ends when the lights go out and batteries die, and Hurricane Sandy sent that message loud and clear to many people in New York City and the surrounding area.

Our NYC apartment was fine, we never lost power, and our neighborhood only suffered a few fallen trees branches.  

But as you know, the areas surrounding us suffered far more damage.  Our friend took pictures in the NYC neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Breezy Point and the Rockaways within days of the devastating storm highlighting some of the drastic effects.  I posted three of his pics here, and you can see more on his photo blog Aemiessence Fine Arts.

With so many people still hurting and trying to dig out, Mike and several executives and marketplace professionals involved with Cru spent hours at the Here’s Life Inner City warehouse in Queens cleaning up hurricane damage and packing Boxes of Love™.

The assembly line at the HLIC warehouse in Queens to pack Boxes of Love for needy families and Hurricane survivors

Each box feeds a family of 6 physically and spiritually.  In partnership with local churches, individuals and other ministries, the act of compassion by giving food to a family in need opens the door to telling people about Jesus. As Pastor Andrew Jagessar from The Worship Center of Queens in New York explains, “Being able to distribute something as needed as a Box of Love has helped position us as a church that is involved in the lives of our neighborhood.  It is invaluable.”

For the New York executives we minister to, being able to serve in a tangible way helps them connect with what’s really important in life: loving God and loving others.

In addition to helping to pack the Boxes, we gladly fed 3 families in need by giving a special gift towards Boxes of Love™ for Hurricane Sandy survivors.  You can, too, at www.HLICNYC.org.


Photo by Aemiessence Fine Arts. www.aemiessence.com

Small Steps to the Homeless Shelter

The roasted vegetables smelled really good.  I’d been standing behind the serving counter for an hour picking up clean plates from my left, scooping out a generous spoonful of those veggies and passing the plate to the person on my right who filled the rest of the plate with spaghetti.  It smelled really good.  I was hungry.

He was hungry.  His back was slightly bent.  He hadn’t shaved for a while.  It was a cold day, but he didn’t have a warm coat on.  He came to the homeless shelter at the same time everyday, and stood in the same line which wound around the building.  He was a regular, and he knew that hungry men like himself were allowed into the dining room in shifts so that there was room for everyone to sit down in a warm place to eat.

I was hungry.  He was hungry. But I wasn’t as hungry as he was.  Looking him in the eye, I acknowledged his dignity and greeted him with a smile and an overflowing plate of roasted vegetables and spaghetti.

There’s something good about serving alongside your staff and students when you aren’t wearing the hat of leader or director.  It puts everyone on an even level and let’s face it, there’s something about looking hungry people in the eye and handing them something hot to eat that removes any sense of hubris.

Wikipedia, that vast bastion of ever evolving information, says, “Volunteerism is the act of selflessly giving your life to something you believe free of pay.”

at the Rescue Mission

I agree, but I’d also add that when campus ministers and ministry leaders put our love in action by serving alongside of our students, we demonstrate the Gospel in a deeper way.  With over 300 verses in the Bible about the poor, social justice, and God’s concern for both, putting my faith in action seems like a reasonable act of worship.

For years I’ve thought about volunteering on a regular basis.  I had a roommate four years ago who spent one night a week in a local soup kitchen.  I didn’t even know that our small city had a soup kitchen.  As I watched her go week after week, I thought about how she put her faith in action so well.  I put my faith in words very well, but I felt a great divide between my words and deeds.  I justified my lack of intentional effort to serve others by my full time ministry role (unpredictable hours, seasons of craziness, I’m already trying to meet the spiritual needs of so many), but lots of people experience similar work stresses and still find time to help people.

This fall I’ve volunteered at a homeless shelter and a warehouse with supplies for the underprivileged.  Yes, it takes a bit of time to get there, and I have to say “no” to other great opportunities to keep those time slots open.  But those few hours spent serving people in need (people in REAL need) while connecting with my students have given me some sweet gifts and insights.  I walk away so grateful for how faithfully God has provided for me.  I walk away with a full heart of worship, having had my heart touched by compassion.  I walk away knowing that someone else’s hard life was made just a little sweeter because of those few hours.  I walk away with a greater appreciation for the decisions my students make to be there every month, and I get to know my students in a different context.

What’s the next step? I want to model servant leadership by helping “the least of these” without an agenda to advance my own purposes.  For me, it’s to commit to a monthly time to serve at the homeless shelter.  I’d like to make it weekly like my former roommate, but I’ll start with small steps.

What about you?

Earlier that first volunteer day I almost backed out of going to the homeless shelter.  “I’m just so tired,” I thought as the time flashed up that strange greenish color on the microwave clock.  I didn’t know if I had the energy to make the subway trek down to the Bowery Mission.  Enough of our students said they wanted to volunteer at the soup kitchen to serve meals to homeless men that I didn’t think it would make a difference if I showed up.

But it did.  It made a big difference.  To him, to my students, and to me.


originally posted on the CruPressGreen Campus Ministry Blog on 15 December 2011

Bad Back

It hurt.  Unexpectedly.  It was my lower back, and I was VERY aware of it. It felt like nothing I’d experienced before, in a bad way.  I wondered if I would be able to make it back to bed, for I felt like passing out.  I couldn’t stand up straight, nor could I bend down any lower.  Moving at all was miserable.  But I hobbled to my side of the bed and somehow managed to get in.  Mike was still sleeping, but not for long!

We were supposed to meet with a pastor for coffee that day, and in the spirit of multi-tasking, I thought I’d clean the bathroom before getting a shower.  I didn’t make it very far. 

When I woke him (gently, for who likes to be awakened harshly?), Mike jumped to action, putting a pillow under my knees, bringing me juice, ibuprofen, my cell phone, my ipad and my eye glasses before leaving for that meeting.  What else could a gal want, right?  A nap, and how about no more back pain?

Since this is the first time my back has “gone out” on me, I called those who I thought might have some advice.  On facebook several people suggested investing in sturdy footwear, but I couldn’t imagine getting out of bed, let alone wearing shoes!

I spent most of the day in bed, and only spent time on the sofa when Mike convinced me of the social benefits of being in the living room with him. The challenge, though, was getting me out of bed.  I don’t know how we did it, for standing and putting weight on my feet (on my back?) really hurt.  Once Mike got me out of bed, he held me as though in a big bear hug and we shuffled into another room together, as though dancing closely, but without music. Back pain aside, that part was kind of sweet.

Today is Bad Back Day #3, and I’m improving.  I need Mike’s help getting out of bed, but I can manage the rest of the day’s mobility challenges on my own. Following the advice of friends in the medical profession, I’m resting, taking ibuprofen (with food!), using a heating pad and gently stretching.  Today Mike and I even went for a short walk.  I’m not trying to be a hero, but I think moving is good.

I don’t know what brought this on.  Did I walk around the City in bad shoes?  Were my muscles too tight?  All I know is that I want to avoid this kind of pain and debilitation again. This is miserable! I imagine some kind of exercise, stretching, strength training could be in my future.

Do you think I can go to yoga soon?  That seems like an exercise which focuses on stretching and strengthening your core muscles.  I need that.  How will I know when I’m ready to dive back into life again?  Those of you who are back pain survivors, I’d love some advice!


One of my girlfriends is on her way over and I feel some inner tension, though it has nothing to do with her.  She’s coming over to help me sort and pack up the remaining items after our garage sale this weekend.

But I feel a bit exposed.  The house is a wreck.  Mike and I tore it apart looking for more items to purge for the sale.  Now my friend is coming over to help put this “humpty-dumpty back together again” (and I need the help!), but I don’t want her to see  the mess.

It’s one thing to talk about other people’s clutter and chaos, but somehow, when it’s MINE, well, that’s when it feels exposing, humbling, vulnerable.  Ironic, isn’t it?  She’s fully aware of the chaos.  I think she even enjoys making order out of chaos.  She’s choosing to spend her free time with me, in my mess and chaos, to help relieve me of the tension and stress I feel when I think about my house.  It’s at the point where I feel a little stuck.  Her fresh eyes, perspective, and enthusiasm will be helpful.

Time for a deep breath.  Time to let in my friend.  Time to release the chaos.

1 Million Meals for Haiti

Spring Break is notorious for self-indulgence, over-indulgence and immediate gratification.  (Trust me, the scene gets worse every year! But that’s a different post.) But one of the bright spots all month long involves students taking an hour or so to assemble a nutrient-rich, “just-add-boiling-water” casserole-ish mix for the people of Haiti.

Every week of March, during Spring Break, the Campus Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ hosts a conference for our involved-students called Big Break. This year, in addition to talking about life in Christ with other students partying on the beach, the conference students will invite others to join them in humanitarian aid relief.

Partnering with GAiN, CCC’s global relief aid arm, the goal is to assemble 1 million meals during all four of March’s spring break weeks in Panama City Beach, FL.  At the time of the earthquake, GAiN had 1 million meals pre-positioned in Haiti in case of a catastrophic event.  They assumed that would be a hurricane, not an earthquake.

Mike with a packet of food for Haiti

When Mike and I were in Panama City Beach last week, we spent two afternoons with the students packing meals.  I was in tears the first day as I imagined the hope and relief these small packages of soy, rice, dehydrated vegetables and chicken flavoring would bring.  The tears kept coming when I noticed students writing prayers, Bible verses and other words of encouragement on the outside of the shipping boxes!

After the conference, the pallets of food will be loaded on to a ship, then sent directly to Haiti.  The students packed over 157,000 meals in three hours! We’re well on our way to the goal of 1 million meals!

Big Break

For some reason, God often uses conferences and events to draw students to a deeper commitment.  That’s why I’ve always been a fan of retreats, get-aways, and conferences.  I have friends who don’t care for these events, but I love them.  I love what God does in people’s lives when they pull away from their regular schedule and focus on what He has for them.

We’re on our way to Panama City Beach, FL for Big Break.  Big Break is a student spring break conference with the aim of encouraging students in their relationship with Christ and equipping them with the skills, experience and practice of sharing their faith.  It’s a week of faith steps and faith risks, of stepping out of a comfort zone and trusting God in big ways.

I’m giving three devotionals next week at Big Break, so I’d love your prayers. I have too much content for my timeframe, and I feel rusty. But more than that, I feel a great honor at getting time in front of 1200 students and I want to be a good steward of that time.

I know.  Realistically, how many people remember a conference talk 5 years later (ha, 5 minutes later?)? I don’t put that kind of pressure on myself. It’s more of a weight of responsibility to use the time well, and honor God with the preparation AND the presentation!

Next week the Big Break staff expect about 1200 students, with more than 2500 students cycling through the conference throughout the month of March (one spring break after another!).

Click here to see Big Break’s website.