When pastors at a church in Ohio presented a challenge to pay off children’s lunch debts in two school districts, they weren’t sure what would happen. They were shocked when the congregation gave enough money to eliminate lunch debts in 10 districts. “Because of your generosity and because of the abundance and grace of our God, not only did we hit that goal but exceeded it and to date over $40,000 has come in!” Salem Church of God Lead Pastor Steve Southards told his congregation. The Clayton, Ohio, church had initially reached out to two neighbouring school districts, which had a combined student lunch debt of over $14,000.
Though unsure about the congregation’s ability to give that much, Southards and the church’s Next Steps pastor, Bob Hawker, decided to announce the project during their Sunday service. Within four days, members gave $40,000, enough to pay off outstanding lunch debt in 10 school districts. “One school food service manager was pretty emotional” Hawker said. “There was immense gratitude. For them to receive such a gift is a big deal.” “As a church, we wanted to show the love of Jesus in really tangible ways that meets the needs of people” Southards was quoted as saying.
One School Superintendent Tony Thomas said, “It’s nice to be in a community with a place like Salem Church of God. For us, the focus is the child. The child can’t be the victim. Nobody wants to see a kid not eat.” The church now wants to set up an “angel fund” to pay off lunch debts on a regular basis. The following Sunday, Pastor Southards thanked the congregation in his sermon and told them that the media interviewed him but edited out the credit that he gave to Jesus. “I believe with all my heart that God is the one who moved our hearts for this deal,” he said, adding that it’s amazing to see what can happen when we are sensitive to God’s voice in our hearts.
Southards also gave credit to Hawker for his “extraordinary” leadership, saying it was his idea to start the program and that he reached out to all the school districts. “Generosity is contagious,” Southards said, and human beings have a desire to be generous because God is generous. Giving brings joy into the hearts of the givers. The pastor quoted 2 Corinthians 9:7-8, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Source: Christian Post