Who Is My Neighbor?

Who Is My Neighbor? (Habitat for Humanity - Part 2)

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Affordable housing is one of the greatest needs in Bloomington/Normal.  Calvary may not be able to resolve this problem on our own, but we can partner with others to make a difference…one family at a time.

That is just what we’re doing with other United Methodist Churches in Bloomington/Normal this spring/summer/fall.  We will be working together on a Habitat for Humanity ‘Beloved’ Build (see last week’s Who Is My Neighbor for an explanation of that designation).  The house we will build will be located at 806 S. Madison in Bloomington.  It is a narrow lot, so it will be a two story home.  

The home owners are Kia and Georgia Griffin.  This is the bio information provided by Habitat for Humanity:  

Kia is originally from Bloomington, moved away for a short time and has been
back for 18 years.    Kia has one daughter, Georgia and she is 8 years old.  
Kia is employed at Jack Lewis Jewelers and has worked there for 5 years.  . 
Kia enjoys listening to music, reading and horseback riding.  Georgia also enjoys ice skating, music, reading, and “Girls in the Game”.  Also, Georgia is in Girl Scouts and Kia is the Scout leader.
The family attends St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Bloomington.  
The family is very excited about the upcoming build season.   Kia says, “I love the idea of helping to build my own home, learning how it all comes together.   I couldn’t be more inspired by the program and by the volunteers who come to assist.   We are so thankful to God and to Habitat for this opportunity.”

In addition to those of you who will volunteer to help build this house on Saturdays, this year we will gather with our brothers and sisters from Wesley and Normal First United Methodist Churches to build the frames for the walls of this house.  This will take place on May 19th from 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. in one of the parking lots of our churches (we’ll let you know the location as soon as we have that information).  The great thing for wall builds is that there can be more people involved, younger folks can participate, and we can get to know brothers and sisters in the other churches.

If you are retired, there is a special opportunity for you to serve during the week.  Every Tuesday and Thursday, retirees meet at the Habitat ReStore at 7:30 a.m. where they are given projects from the various Habitat Builds in the area.  This is a great way to serve as well as meet other folks.

 Finally, there are volunteer opportunities at Habitat’s ReStore at 1402 W. Washington in Bloomington.  The ReStore not only provides lower priced used products for people in the area (not just Habitat folks), but the profits from the ReStore go back into the Habitat Builds to make it possible to purchase land for future houses. 

Habitat for Humanity:  a great way to love our neighbors!

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor (Habitat for Humanity: Part 1)


The Calvary Habitat for Humanity Team is taking this pledge:  

“I believe that every single one of us — regardless of who we are or where we come from — deserves a decent life.
Like Dr. King, I believe in a Beloved Community of justice, equal opportunity and love of my fellow human beings.
I want to help build a world that leaves no room for poverty, prejudice or violence.
I pledge to work together with my neighbors, side by side, to create strength, stability and self-reliance for all.
I ask others to join me — it’s up to us to make this a reality.”

This the pledge to build a Beloved Community with whom we will partner with
Habitat for Humanity and the other United Methodist Churches in Bloomington/Normal.  Habitat for Humanity explains ‘Beloved’ builds in this way, “Marking the 50th anniversaries of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the passage of the Fair Housing Act, Habitat for Humanity engages nationwide in the Beloved Community initiative throughout the year.  Building on King’s vision, the Beloved Community allows access, equality and opportunity for all.  The Beloved Community is fair, just and built on the love of God operating in the human heart…...The projects are part of Habitat’s commitment to meet The King Center’s MLK 50 Forward challenge to carry out 50 acts of kindness or service recognizing the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination.”

While there will be other Habitat Builds in McLean County, the one with which the Bloomington/Normal United Methodist Churches participates has been chosen as the ‘Beloved Community’ Build!

We will be partnering with Normal First UMC and Bloomington Wesley UMC as well as any of the other UM churches in town not already involved in a Habitat build.  Although each of the churches will be assigned a Saturday for which we are responsible, our intention is to mix it up so that we can get to know our brothers and sisters in these other churches.

Even if you have worked with Habitat in the past, we need you to sign up again because we want to get a fresh, accurate list.  Someone from Calvary’s Habitat group will be at a kiosk in the Atrium on Sunday, March 18 and 25.  If you are unable to sign up at those times, just call the church office or sign up here and we’ll get you connected!

More details in next week’s Who Is Your Neighbor article…...stay tuned.

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor (40 Days of Prayer - Week 3)

Our 40 Days of Prayer series has been such a blessing as we’ve gathered in small group Bible Studies to learn how to pray in newer, perhaps deeper ways.  We took this even further on March’s First Wednesday as we were given the opportunity to use 10 prayer stations as well as the labyrinth that continues to be set up in G004 (off of the gym) through Sunday, March 11.  It was a joy to watch people of all ages engage in these together and listen to the voice of God in various hands on experiences.

We aren’t even half-way through this series, so if you haven’t yet had a chance to be involved, please explore our website for materials and jump in at any time.  Participating in studies, discussions, and experiences of prayer is always fruitful…communicating with the Lord of the Universe is the most important act in which we can engage.

Another opportunity for powerful prayer will take place this Sunday, March 11th at 3:00 p.m. in the Worship Center.  Sometimes, the people Jesus points out as our neighbors are literally in our neighborhood!  Living in the Bloomington/Normal area means that we have many, many wonderful employers and a few very large ones.  We are grateful for each of them…..large or small.  Just as we would pray for those around the globe who are in a time of change and uncertainty, so we are called to pray for those in our own communities in that same situation.  
McLean County is a very transient area as folks move in and out due to jobs, school, family, etc.  However, we find ourselves at a time right now when those who may have seen themselves as having put down roots in B/N are finding themselves at a certain or possible relocation or even job loss.  This brings, of course, much stress on employers, employees, families, and companies and/or organizations that are secondarily rocked by these changes.

Our neighbors are in Buliisa.  Our neighbors are in Haiti.  Our neighbors are the homeless in Bloomington/Normal.  Our neighbors are children.  Our neighbors are elderly.  And our neighbors are those we know….now and anytime…..who need our prayers.  Many of them live in Bloomington/Normal right now.  May they know that they are loved, supported in prayer, and in the strong arms of Jesus.

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor?


As we continue our 40 Days of Prayer Series throughout Lent, I am reminded of the Scripture from which this column is named.  In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus answers the question, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  As he often did, Jesus answered the question with a question.  Ultimately, he helps his listeners to think about who we consider to be our neighbors.  While Lent is a time for self-examination, we can’t look at ourselves without examining how we are responding to the needs around us.

The first week in our study/prayer journal was ‘The Purpose of Prayer.’  Isn’t that obvious?  The purpose of prayer is to get what we want from God, right?  OK…..maybe that’s not the purpose.  However, do we pray as if that’s the case?  How often do we pray that God will give us the opportunities to make a difference in the world….even in the midst of our chaos? 

I would like for us to do something that won’t cause us to leave our houses, make any special trips, or cost us a dime.  I would like for us to spend time in prayer specifically praying for the following:

1-The homeless in Bloomington/Normal and the agencies that serve them.

2-Those who have to eat ‘cheap’ rather than nutritious food and ministries who attempt to alleviate this problem.

3-Those who live in substandard housing because they can’t afford anything better and they can’t risk upsetting their landlords.  Pray for landlords to be faithful and for more affordable housing to be made available.

This is just a beginning, but I think you can see where I’m going.  The purpose of prayer isn’t only to ask for our needs to be met…...we also have a responsibility to our neighbors. 

May we look for the power of God to be unleashed in our world as the prayers of God’s people abound.


Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC. 

Who Is My Neighbor? (Lightened By The Light - Week 4)

This past Sunday, Randy preached a sermon using Micah 6:1-8 as his text.  He asked, “What does God want from us?”  That question was this generation’s version of the question being asked by the people of Israel in the Micah passage.  What does God ‘require’ of us?  That answer is very simple:  “....to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

As a homework assignment, we were asked to practice mercy as we sought opportunities to care for and about others.  Randy suggested that we give you some ideas in this article….not just for this week, but for every week.  Of course in addition to the ideas listed below, you might read through former articles in this series to get ideas.  For some of this, mercy comes very easily and we see opportunities everywhere we look.  For others of us, we have to be very intentional about seeking out these opportunities and even more intentional about following through with actually fulfilling those acts.  Either way, God calls us to love mercy…..not because we ‘have to’, but because we are people of God with the heart of God.

So…here we go.  Feel free to add to this list and if you’ve experienced mercy from others in ways not listed here, please pass those stories along to me and/or others.

Let’s do the obvious ones first:

  • Visit someone in prison or jail.  Even if you don’t know anyone in this situation, call first and ask if there is someone who doesn’t get visitors.  We have Bibles at church if you’d like to take one to leave, or just spend time with the person without preaching ‘at’ them.
  • Visit a nursing home.  Randy mentioned this at one of the services Sunday.  Ask at the desk who might not have visitors or who is really down that particular day.  Whether they are communicative or not, you will be a blessing to them.
  • Call or stop by Home Sweet Home or Safe Harbor to see how you might be of help.  Try to offer an opportunity to sit down with a resident to just be a friend to them rather than a person who will judge them or look down on them.
  • Offer to care for a friend’s children for a few hours so your friend can get out of the house, go on a date, or just do nothing for a change.
  • Prepare a meal and take it to someone who has just gotten home from the hospital, or has had a baby or has lost a loved one or has just moved or…just anyone!
  • Bake some cookies and take them to a neighbor, the fire station, the police officer with the radar gun, etc.
  • Let someone go in front of you at the store (especially if they have a crying or fussy child).
  • Help someone carry their groceries to their car (only if you don’t look like you’re going to steal them!).
  • Help a neighbor (who knows you) carry their groceries into the house.
  • Sit in the middle of the row at church so that someone else can sit on the end.
  • Smile at the parents of a screaming child to let them know it’s OK.
  • Pay for someone’s meal or for the person behind you at a toll booth or fast food, etc.

There are so many more ideas…hopefully this gave you enough to whet your appetite.  If we would follow the words of the prophet Micah to act justly, love mercy and to walk kindly with our God, how might our world be blessed?

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor (Red Bird Mission)


Our God is so amazing…..I’m sure you already know that, but let me give you another illustration of God’s hand at work.

Calvary’s Outreach team has identified several ministries to support in three categories:  Local, National, and International.  (A summary of those are in last week’s Who Is My Neighbor.)  These ministries were brought to our attention by you…..the body of Christ at Calvary.

We have two international ministries about which Calvary is passionate:  Buliisa and Haiti.  We also have many local ministries with whom Calvary folks have a special place in their hearts.

The missing piece was national ministry…..something outside of our immediate area, but still in the US.  Workcamp is one of those ministries….our youth sponsor that trip yearly and many adults and youth reach out to others in a particular region.  However, we wanted to partner with a ministry that was close enough that all ages could participate and anyone could easily drive there in a day.  I knew about Red Bird Mission, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky and the important services they provide the people in that area.  We began financially supporting that ministry and wanted to fulfill our commitment to not just give money to ministries, but to also give of our time in volunteering.  We had not yet found anyone to run with this because they were already committed to other outreach ministries.  Until…

Sandy and Gary Dickson read about Red Bird Mission in a Who Is Your Neighbor article and the fire in their hearts was immediately lit.  God worked in them and within 6 weeks, they were on their way to Kentucky with the following items that were needed:

   5 sheet sets
   5 blankets
   3 fleece throws
   1 throw pillow
   2 crocheted baby blankets
   3 crocheted scarves
   1 pair gloves

   10 sheet sets
   2 flat sheets
   8 assorted pillow cases
   3 bed quilts (1 was handmade)
   1 fleece throw
   1 bag of stocking caps, gloves, scarf)
   1 bag of small stuffed toys
   6 pair nearly new shoes
   1 pair men’s work boots

Thanks to a quick turnaround from all of you, the Dicksons had a full load of items that the staff at Red Bird had identified as immediate needs.  Thank you church!  And thank you all for listening to God’s call on your life.  We never know when God will nudge us and say, “Look….over there. That’s your neighbor.”

(Read more about this ministry at www.rbmission.org)

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor? (Safe Harbor)

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Sometimes we have the time to plan ahead for ministry support outside of our church.  And then there are those times when we hear about a need and a response is needed immediately.  The latter was the case during the bitter cold that we had after Christmas.  One of our Calvary family heard from the Safe Harbor staff that the number of people coming there for a warm place to sleep was far beyond what they usually serve.  They were in desperate need of blankets and socks.  We put this need on Facebook and very quickly people were responding.  We don’t know how many folks took blankets and/or socks directly to Safe Harbor (there was no time to collect at Calvary and then deliver them), but we did have another of our Calvary family members who went to Walmart and purchased 27 blankets and 126 pair of socks on behalf of the church.  In addition, a local restaurant delivered 100 chicken dinners to Safe Harbor.

This is what happens when the people of God hear about a need.  Being in a warm house when it’s bitterly cold outside just makes us more keenly aware of how miserable it would be to be outside longer than the time it takes to walk to our car.

Thank you for continually responding to needs as they arise.  This is what it means to love our neighbor.

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor? (2017 in Review)


One of the things I enjoy about the end of one year and the beginning of the next are the various ‘Year in Review’ segments in the news.  Although there are plenty of things for which to be sad (deaths, wildfires, flooding), I love to remember the incredible blessings God has allowed us to witness.

There are many members of our Calvary family ministering to our community everyday in ways we don’t even know….and we celebrate their faithfulness to God!  There are also some things that we do as a church that we can easily identify…..and I want to make sure all of us see this full picture so that we can celebrate the faithfulness of our God.

Calvary tithes (gives 10% of our donations) to ministry beyond our walls.  In Matthew 25, we read these words of Jesus, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me,  was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  (For the full effect, read Matthew 25:31-46.)

The Outreach Team has the responsibility of determining where the funds go.  Rounded off to the nearest 100, here’s how your tithe was used in  2017:

The Baby Fold                    $11,000
Faith in Action                       5,000
Home Sweet Home Ministries         11,300
Habitat for Humanity                 10,000
Midwest Food Bank                 10,000
Buliisa Water Project                 10,000
Haiti Church Build and Missions         14,700
Elmira Sellu (Missionary in Sierra Leone)       2,500
Illini Fighting Hunger (food packaging)       2,900
Mom and Me Camp                   2,000
Flood Relief (UMCOR)               5,000
Operation Christmas Child               1,000
Linda Unger (missionary in Nairobi)          3,000
Red Bird Mission                    1,000
ISU Wesley Foundation               5,000
Bloomington Township Community Care       1,000
Calvary’s Good Samaritan Fund          1,500
Flood Bucket Supplies                  500
Suubi Works (Uganda)              3,500
Our Conference Our Kids              3,500
Parkside Elementary Special Olympics         950

The United Methodist Church requests 6 special offerings which help various people in need and Outreach also contributed $600 to each of those 6 areas.

In addition, the church proudly contributes to the General Church (the United Methodist Church as a whole) through a benevolence asking called the World Service Apportionment, which supports a plethora of ministries throughout the world. Through the World Service Fund, we join hands with United Methodists around the world to help those in need.
Of course, it’s not only financial support that we provide…..people volunteered in nearly all of the above ministries and donated food, clothing, and gifts to many of God’s people.

So…..Calvary’s year in review, in part says that God was very faithful to allow us to fulfill the instructions of Jesus written in Matthew 25.  Thank you for being a part of God’s work throughout the world in 2017!

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor? (Birthday Party for Jesus, The Baby Fold, and Evergreen)


‘Tis the season for birthday parties!  Well, people may call them Christmas parties, but Calvary’s KidVenture sponsored a Birthday Party for Jesus this past Wednesday (12/20).  Not only did they read the story of Jesus’ birth while the appropriate characters acted it out, but they also collected gifts for Jesus!  The gifts were in the form of making cards for the residents of Evergreen Assisted Living across from the church and bringing diapers for The Baby Fold’s Healthy Start Program.

Jesus’ babies need lots and lots of diapers, and people were very generous in bringing them to the party.  The cards for the Evergreen Residents will be given out when our volunteers go to Evergreen to operate Calvary’s Live Stream on Christmas Eve and celebrate worship with these precious people.  I love that our children learn not only the very powerful story of Jesus’ birth, but also that Jesus loves it when we celebrate Him by giving to others.

The Baby Fold’s Healthy Start Program serves McLean and Champaign County moms aged 22 and younger who are expecting their first baby.  Many of these young moms are considered ‘at risk’ because many don’t have the support system they need to answer important questions about how to take care of themselves during pregnancy and how to take care of their baby when he/she is born.

The following description is found on The Baby Fold’s website:  

“The Healthy Start program is totally voluntary, but requires commitment from the mother to invite a Family Support Worker into her home bi-weekly through the remainder of her pregnancy and weekly during the first nine months of her baby’s life. A feature of the program is “mom is the child’s first teacher,” and the Support Worker brings many interactive ideas to help mom and baby relate and bond. The Support Worker becomes a trusted friend, a tie to other community resources, and a resource on so many “what do I do” concerns. Not only does the Support Worker help the mother relate to her child, she helps the mother build a safe and economically viable environment for her family. At the end of the Healthy Start program, the family graduates, knowing they have the resources and knowledge to manage the stresses of life.”

As you have your Christmas celebrations this week, I pray that you will be overwhelmed with the presence of Jesus and that you might consider ways that others have been in ministry with/for you and ways that you might be in ministry with/for others in the coming year.  Praise God for the gift of Jesus!

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor? (Home Sweet Home Ministries and Safe Harbor)

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As I write this, I can hear the wind whipping around the corner of my office and I can see the branches of a pine tree being blown back and forth.  The thought of going outside for any reason makes me want to curl up in front of my fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate.  And I think of those who have no other choice…who have no warm office in which to work, who have no warm home in which to live…..who have no choice but to hope a shelter is open in the evening where they might get a warm meal and a cot on which to sleep and thaw out for a bit.

That’s why Calvary is a strong supporter of Home Sweet Home Ministries and a regular provider of meals for Safe Harbor…both agencies which offer shelter for the homeless.  I love Home Sweet Home’s vision statement:  ‘Our ministry is to be a place of refuge and renewal powered by Jesus Christ.’

In an effort to better understand the needs of our community and to most faithfully use the tithe that Calvary so graciously gives to glorify God, I did a very informal community needs assessment last summer.  One of the things I learned was that affordable housing is one of the biggest needs in Bloomington/Normal.  It is impossible to work a minimum wage job and provide housing for a family.  In fact, minimum wage jobs often don’t guarantee a 40 hour work week, so it’s nearly impossible to provide housing for one.  Work more jobs, you say?  If you are single, that might work (although when your employer calls you to work and you have to go to your other job, how long do you think they’ll keep you?).  However, with even one child, going to work and paying for childcare is cost prohibitive…and when you add the other living expenses…well, you get the idea.

Is there something we can do?  Yes!  I’m glad you asked!  Of course you can always just stop by one of our community shelters and offer to help in any way that they need (remember to ask what they need rather than what we think they need).  There are always financial needs for those places in town who provide shelters.  Although we certainly don’t have a homeless shelter, Calvary uses our Good Samaritan Fund to help with emergency needs (which sometimes include temporary housing or food).  Our Christmas Offering this year goes to the Good Samaritan Fund so that we might help folks who just need a boost.

Along with others in the community as well as our church, I am going to participate in Home Sweet Home Ministries’ ‘A Night in a Car’ on Feb. 2 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bloomington.  You can donate toward my ‘car’ or sign up to bring your car and spend the night yourself.

None of us likes to see someone suffer from homelessness…and it’s even more frustrating to see the problem and not know what to do about it.  As we celebrate Christmas this year, may we know that our God sees every single person and allows each of us to reach out to others in a variety of ways.  Maybe someone just needs your encouragement this year.  Maybe they need a coat.  Maybe they need a meal. There’s one thing that people of all ages and stages can do:  we can all pray.  Will you join me in praying for those who are cold today?

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor? (Gift Giving That Keeps Giving)

You may have already finished your Christmas shopping.  If so, congratulations for your organizational skills!  If not, there are ways to help others as you buy gifts for those people who have everything and really don’t want anything.  My parents got to that stage of their lives and were unable to use the ever-practical restaurant gift cards.  My solution?  I think I bought them a goat.  I can’t quite remember….maybe it was a llama.  How could I forget the specifics of such a gift?  They didn’t have to feed it (which made my dad happy)......I had given a goat (or llama) in their name to Heifer International to help families around the world earn a living. 

This year, I shopped at Crossroads Handcrafts of the World right here in Downtown Bloomington.  I chose gifts that were appropriate for the person for whom I was shopping, and also gave back to the persons who made them.  I love being able to support those who are trying so hard to support themselves!

Those are just 2 examples, both offering tangible support.  (I wish I would have thought to include a toy goat or llama in my gift to my parents…..that would have been a nice connecting gift.)  This was given through Heifer International, which offers many more options for helping people around the world.

I’m sure the many of you get many requests in the mail, e-mail, or by phone all the time for supporting particular charities.  It can get very overwhelming.  I can’t answer questions about all of them, but I can give you some ideas from the ones I do know about who help others while blessing your gift receiver.

  • Fair Trade stores everywhere…..even online.  Just search ‘fair trade’ and you’ll see the options.
  • United Methodist Committee on Relief:  if you’d like to help those affected by wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes or other natural disasters, this might be of interest to you.
  • Local places like The Baby Fold, Home Sweet Home Mission, or any number of other places in our community who address human need.
  • United Methodist Missions:  go to UMCmission.org, then ‘give to mission’, then ‘search for projects’ and you’re certain to find that special project that connects to that special person in your life. 
  • Have a teacher gift to find?  How about purchasing a teacher or student school bag kit for the Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Chatham, IL?  http://midwestmissiondc.org/projects/projects

These are just a few suggestions and I know you could come up with your own list at least this long.  There’s no shame in shopping the ‘usual’ places, of course.  Those places also provide jobs.  However, if you have parents like mine were, or teacher gifts like I struggled with, or other kinds of conundrums, maybe the above suggestions will help as we help our neighbors throughout the world.

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor? (Redbird Mission)

Calvary’s Outreach Team has a practice of supporting local, national, and international ministries.  You’ve heard a lot about local and international ministries, but maybe not as much about our focus on our national focus on Redbird Mission.  Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky,  The needs are great in these isolated areas and we want to be a part of meeting the needs.
Redbird Mission tells their story better than I could, so check out the ways in which God is working through them by going to this site:  http://rbmission.org/about-us/

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor? (30 Hour Famine: Part 2)

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Last week you read about Calvary’s amazing youth who gave of their time, money, and desire to eat for 30 hours!!  Every year, hundreds of thousands of students throughout the world go without food for 30 hours in order to help those who are hungry.  Organized by World Vision, students not only go without food for 30 hours and raise money for hunger relief, but they also learn a lot about the devastating reality of world hunger, malnutrition, and food scarcity.  

This year, Calvary’s Junior High Youth raised $3,672 for Hunger Relief! 

Calvary’s youth were given a reflection sheet on which they shared the answer to 4 questions based upon their lessons throughout the event:

1-What was the most impactful part of your 30 hours?

2-How did God help you with your fear?

3-What are you hungry for spiritually?

4-Do you have any new thoughts about children in the developing world?

Some of the answers were given in last week’s Who Is My Neighbor article.  I know you’ll be blessed as you read those as well as this week’s.  God is so good!  

How did God help you with your fear?

When I went to the nursing home. I talked to a woman who was really open and she was sitting right there in the sitting room. I think God put her there to make me know that I can do this. It’s not scary.

There was not a specific fear that God helped me with but he helped me feel more comfortable serving others in Jesus’ name.

He helped me to get through it, he showed me that my fear would help me to get farther, then it’s not as much of a fear anymore.

He helped me see how lucky I am to have clean water and food. He made me less scared of the hunger by helping others at the food pantry.

God helped me by overcoming my fears and worries. Everything that I thought would make this experience terrible, didn’t come true. He sent a kind of peace over me after talking about my fears and worries.

Gave me so many other great things to focus on that got my mind off the hunger.

He led me through the past 30 hours and told me I was going to be ok and he told me that I should stay happy and thankful.

He provided me with amazing caregivers that reminded me that it really isn’t that hard and to just keep drinking.

God helped me by distracting me and making sure I knew I wasn’t alone.

I didn’t think that I could survive the whole 30 hours.

God helped me by reminding myself I could do it and by not giving up I would learn a lot.

My friends that helped me through.

He let me know that everything is okay and he would take care of me.

What are you hungry for spiritually?

I am hungry for a relationship with Christ. An everyday thing. Not something where I feel him on weekends like this but so I can feel him every day.

Spiritually, I am hungry for the ability to serve. I always WANT to serve, but I never think of it. I want God to help me actually follow through with my serving.

I think I always want to feel appreciated and to belong. I have also been straying from him and don’t feel as close to him, but I know it won’t matter to him and people have it was worse than me.

A strong relationship with God and I would like to get more involved in public service, it really impacted me in such a positive way and will also impact others positively as well.

Spiritually, I’m hungry to know God better. I know who he is and how he works, but I want a better relationship with him.

Peace of mind and knowing and COMPLETELY TRUSTING GOD with his plan with all of this.

I am spiritually hungry for acceptance. I want to be accepted for who I am.

Consistency. My faith seems to strengthen in bursts, when I wish to be more consistent with it.

I’m spiritually hungry for God. I desperately want to know I’m loved by God. I want to feel him.

For a message from God.

I want God to tell me something I should do to help someone else.

Courage to share His word.

A stronger relationship with God.

Do you have any new thoughts about children in the developing world?

I knew that we had it good and that they had it bad. But I didn’t realize that 30 million children under 5th grade can’t go to school. And that 5,000 children die every day from dirty water. Wow, what can I do to help them?

Yes! I feel more drawn to try to help them now, and now I think more of them now than I did before. Now, I have a better idea of how little they have in their lives.

I realize that what they have to deal with is extreme, and we are SO blessed. I feel for them a lot and want to help.

How their way of life is different and tough. I would like to do something to help those children in need.

I always knew that life was hard for children in the world and how lucky I am. Now I know how much more extreme it is. Everything is so hard for them, I wouldn’t be able to imagine it.

I want to help so much more than I already did before this and I want to know everything I can do.

I feel how they are now. I feel terrible about it. I feel as though it is unfair that I get to live my life while they live theirs.

I never realized how bad it truly is for them. If I could, I would do something to help them, but there’s so many, I can’t help them all.

My new thoughts are that they suffer a lot more than I assumed. They could die from starvation but I feel they handle it so well.

Yes, I now understand how hard it is for them.

Yes, I have a new respect for what they deal with and are happy but I complain all the time and I have everything.

I need to help them. I have so much and they have so little. Even the little things I need to learn to give.

They have it hard, while we have it easy as can be. They have to work for what they want, we don’t.

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor? (30 Hour Famine - Part 1)

30 Hour Famine11.jpg

Every year, hundreds of thousands of students throughout the world go without food for 30 hours in order to help those who are hungry.  Organized by World Vision, students not only go without food for 30 hours and raise money for hunger relief, but they also learn a lot about the devastating reality of world hunger, malnutrition, and food scarcity.  

This year, Calvary’s Junior High Youth raised $3,672 for Hunger Relief!  I asked Trace Mitchell, who raised $840 on his own why he was so motivated to go to all that work to raise the money.  “I wanted to help people. When I saw the brochure and saw that $840 would feed 2 children for a whole year, I thought, ‘I could do this.’  It was really hard because it’s easy for me to talk to people.  The first day was the easiest then it got a little harder.  I went door and door starting at my house and the further I got away from my house, the more people made excuses not to help out.  I didn’t care how much people gave….I was happy with whatever they gave.”

Hannah Gaff, another participant in the 30 Hour Famine said, “It was cool because we got to experience what a lot of people have to do all of the time and it was connected with spiritual hunger.  We were able to realize how blessed we are.”

Calvary’s youth were given a reflection sheet on which they shared the answer to 4 questions based upon their lessons throughout the event:

1-What was the most impactful part of your 30 hours?
2-How did God help you with your fear?
3-What are you hungry for spiritually?
4-Do you have any new thoughts about children in the developing world?

Because these answers are so powerful, I’m going to expand this article to next week so that you can read their answers (without names attached).  

In answer to the first question, ‘What was the most impactful part of your 30 hours:’

When we went to the nursing home and to see the joy on their faces.  I usually don’t do things like that but I had the most fun.
Working at the food pantry.  Learning about how the pantry got started was very much a God moment, and just knowing that I helped a lot of people today made me feel like God was working in me.
The most impactful was probably Saturday night when we sang Good, Good Father and when we talked about physical hunger and spiritual hunger and it just kind of got real….and that doesn’t always happen.
The feeling of hunger...it really made me think of the kids and people who have to endure that every day.  I also was fueled by the hunger to work hard during the service project to give back.
The most impactful part of my 30 hours was the fact that when you’re learning about how other kids love their life, and being with your friends and God, you don’t realize how hungry you actually are.
Hearing everything the elderly had to say about life.  The fact about not just being hungry for food but mentally and spiritually hungry to things in life.
Helping the lady and other people get things done.  I also thought it was impactful when the lady told us her story on how the pantry opened up.
Not being on my phone helped me spend time with God and imagining if my life was like this all of the time. 
The most impactful part of these 30 hours is the hunger I’ve had and to think it’s constant for the people who don’t have food.
When we went to the Hope organization to wrap toys and gifts.
The most impactful part was probably learning about people who live like this everyday.
Talking to Laura and letting her pray over me.
Watching the videos.  It really opens your eyes to problems that people struggle with.

Next week, check in to read the rest of the students’ answers and hear how God changes our hearts in the midst of our helping others.

About the Author
Debbie Reese is the Co-Directing Pastor of Calvary UMC

Who Is My Neighbor? (Food Packaging)


We take food for granted.  Rather than wondering if we will eat today, we choose from the many different options in our home or the plethora of restaurant choices we have in town.  So the people of Calvary are quick to take advantage of opportunities to help feed others and we had one such opportunity at November’s First Wednesday.

Illini Fighting Hunger, a ministry of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Illinois, provides the products that organizations can use to package meals for families wherever they may be needed.  This year, over 100 Calvary folks gathered in the gym to package meals which will be given to flood victims throughout the South.  A nutritious and delicious rice dish was packaged by a minimum of 7 people at each assembly table…..children, youth, and adults all working together.  We completed 2,955 packets, which will provide 17,730 meals for those who are putting their lives back together after the hurricanes earlier this fall.

As you can see in the pictures, it was such a joy to work together as ‘families’ not related by family, but by Jesus Christ.  Isn’t that what the church is all about?  If you’re interested in serving beside brothers and sisters in Christ in this church and/or others, there are plenty of opportunities and certainly plenty of need.  Just check out our website at www.connectwithcalvary.org and look for ways to serve under ‘Works’.  

Our neighbors are hungry.  Thank you for feeding them…one meal at a time.