Today I am really happy! About two years ago our family started a little ministry; right here in our own little, unexpected, unapparent, mission field. At the time we didn’t know that it would be a ministry. It was just something that the Holy Spirit whispered to me and when I talked to my husband, Mark, and our boys, they all got on board and it just kind of happened.
In the spring of 2014 I received an email from my youngest son’s school. It said it was time to come and go through the lost and found and pick up anything that your child had lost during the year. It said everything would be donated the next week. I read the email went through my thought process and decided we weren’t missing anything and trashed it.
Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I knew it was God because it was different. It wasn’t just a passing thought. But more like an instruction or a directive even. When the Holy Spirit speaks to me it is very clear and everything about it is different than just my normal thoughts.
Anyway, He said “you could do something with those jackets.” I tried to blow it off and He said it again. So I was going into the school anyway and asked the secretary what they do with the items left over in the lost and found? The lady at the front said that someone on the PTA donates them to their Church. That sounded great to me. It felt okay to me. So I moved on.
It wasn’t long before I heard the whisper again. This time He said to me “this is not the only school. Check the other schools.” And I was like, “seriously God! I don’t have time for this.” And He again said, “Check with the other schools.” Isn’t that funny! I told God I didn’t have time!
So I went home made a list of the schools just the elementary schools in our district. I reached out to about two-thirds of them. About half of those said “YES! Please come get our lost and found.” So at the end of school that year we picked up about 2000 jackets and coats that were left in the lost and found in our school district.
We had no idea what we were in for. They were all in huge trash bags. We dumped them out on the floor of our living room and started sorting. We put them in three piles. Keep. Donate. Trash. There is no telling what kind of funk was on those jackets and coats. We all wore rubber gloves when we sorted them.
We called in all the help we could get. We enlisted my mom and my sister to help. I would also take ladies from my bible study trash bags full of dirty jackets. They would wash them in their washers and dried them in their dryers and folded them back up and put them in trash bags and brought them back to me. It was a beautiful, selfless act of kindness. And through it all I could hear God saying, “’Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matt. 25:40
That year we ended up with about 800 coats and jackets that could be recycled and reused and given out through local churches and charities in our area. The Lord had really impressed upon me that we needed to give the items back to the community that we collected them in. And this has not always proved to be an easy task.
Last year, in 2015, we went through the same process. We reached out to most of the elementary schools. And ended up collecting from about half of them. The number of jackets collected and distributed went up as well.
We did some things different. I don’t know that it was better, but it was different. We took all the items to a laundromat and washed them there. Because we had more, I rented a storage room for two months to keep the bags in until we could go through them all. The first year we put all the bags in the dining room of our house and it eventually drove me bonkers.
Using the laundromat and the storage room cost us more out of our pockets then we had budgeted for, but we were able to sell some things to cover the expenses. I felt like it was God, once again, providing a way for this to happen. He supplied for all of our needs (Phil. 4:19), right down to providing someone to take what we could not find anyone else to distribute.
And this year I am so excited because the schools have started calling us. We have already received a call from an elementary school that would like us to come and pick up their lost and found now. And they will have more for us at the end of the school year. We have already scheduled more schools to pick up this year than we had last year, and we will be picking up from the middle schools as well.
So, why do I tell you all of this?
I have told you this story to ask you a question.
What is God calling you to do?
Most of us will never consider ourselves as missionaries. But we are. Look around! This is your mission field. Where you are right now! Most of us are just not open to our assignment and not willing to allow God to use us.
Friends, there is nothing glamorous about collecting dirty clothes in trash bags, standing out in the heat wearing rubber gloves and sorting through jackets that have mud on the outside, snot rags in the pockets and probably lice and other nastiness somewhere else. But our ears are open, our hearts are willing and our bodies are able. That is when God speaks.
Where is your mission field? What is your ministry? What is God calling you to do?
Don’t worry. Your assignment probably won’t be forever. It’s ok if it is just for right now.
All you have to do is Ask Him, Listen for Him, then Respond to what He says. He will do all the rest!
P.S. If you would like to keep up with this story as it unfolds this year, you can see our progress on our Facebook page.