When Pastor Cynthia T. Turner invited individuals at Dayspring Community Church in Greenbelt, Md., to share our 2011 gratitude and our agenda for 2012 on New Year’s Day, one woman’s testimony resonated with me. The woman told of her gratitude for an apprenticeship that led to a job and a near doubling of her salary.
Clad in a red and black dress and glittery high-heel pumps, the woman cried as she talked about how far she had come.
“I remember when I didn’t have any food in my refrigerator, and I couldn’t feed my children,” she said. “And this pastor took food out of her refrigerator and gave it to me to feed my children.”
I looked up to the pulpit, a stage in Goddard Middle School in Prince George’s County, where church is held each Sunday. Turner, humbled and uplifted, had told the woman to withhold her tithes until her financial situation improved, we learned. The sister in the pew said she became even more determined to tithe. Giving feels good, she said.
I considered the pastor’s sacrifice. As far as I know, her ministry is her full-time job and her only trust fund is her trust that her God will make a way. Her congregation is small, but their offerings to the community have been grand. They have held carwash fundraisers to benefit organizations and donated food baskets to families.
I was reminded of a lesson my mother and her sister-friends had taught us: we always have something to give. They would take a portion of our food stamps and feed the homeless in a park once a month. They were criticized by some who said people on welfare had no business trying to give charity. We were charity, they thought.
My mother and her sister friends believed otherwise. Hearing of the pastor giving food from her own fridge lifted my heart on New Year’s Day. It was validation of a lesson my mother offered years ago.
Later, I opened an email from my sister-friend Jackie Woody-Brown, a proud Prince George’s County resident and community volunteer. Her year-end reflections and prayers for the year ahead delighted me.
“In 2011, I traveled across the country and back, eventually visiting 10 states throughout the year. I renewed friendships and kinships, accepted another professional opportunity and achieved another professional goal…I am grateful for last year’s grace, peace and the abundant journey,” she wrote. “It has been in good health for me and most of my family, through healing and forgiving, watching people and GOD’s amazing creation in places along the highways and byways on buses, trains, planes - even a boat - through mountains, in forests and valleys, cities and towns. By studying and reading and listening and learning. By trusting God more.”
She sent her letter to all the women in her sister circle. She thanked us for our prayers and for encouraging, challenging and inspiring her. With this note, I was reminded of the many love notes, jokes, and short stories I received from sister-friends last year.
I want to share as much as I can and as often as a I can in the new year. I hope you all will use the comments space below to post links to your blog and Facebook notes where you share your observations, experiences, and insights that can inspire others.
Happy New Year all! On you mark, get set, ready, GO!
Follow Sonsyrea Tate Montgomery on Twitter at: @Sonsyrea.
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