As I arrived my eyes became a little teary as I stood at the back of the tents that were set up on our LifeTouch Ministries and Counseling Center parking lot. Big and small tents were filled with participants and volunteers who milled around at our annual UnGarage sale.
Everything from school supplies and household goods to hundreds of pieces of clothing from infant through adult sizes hung neatly on racks and piled high on tables. All donated by generous supporters.
A food truck was parked to the side where good food smells wafted out into the breeze. Children enjoyed face painters and a tent with a beautiful safari theme. Last but not least, a tent with two stylists offering stylish haircuts.
The BEST part? Every single thing offered was free. We call it the UnGarage sale for that very reason.
And from 9:00a.m. to 4:00 p.m. they came, and they came, and they came.
By the end of the day, over 200 people were fed a free and delicious lunch. All told, we estimated that over 400 people came to shop, or should I say UNshop, for what they needed.
Yes, I felt the tears in my eyes when I first arrived. I spoke a grateful prayer to God as I realized that He was allowing us to continue to walk out the calling that He gave from the very beginning.
We know that the Kingdom of God is upside down in its ways. Those of us who operate in it here on earth get glimpses of how it makes little sense to our common sense sometimes.
A few people who came asked me, “Is this a fund raiser? Or “Are we expected to give a donation?” I said, “Oh no…There are no expectations.” One woman said angrily, “WHY IS IT FREE? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?” As I told her why it was free, my joy grew even bigger. “Because Jesus loves you,” I said.
And as they came, and they came, and they came, there were a few other things that were free. I suppose in the telling, I have saved the best for last. Here they are:
God’s grace was free. It flowed through the tents and the people that very hot day as we all served. Even in the tearing down, there was grace. There was love. There was joy, respect, shared community, and generosity. There was enough of all those God-given gifts for all of us and those who attended, and those gifts of the Kingdom will continue far into our days.
We accomplished our tag line that day, “Helping people return to JOY.” As I wiped away a few tears and headed into the crowd, a line of a well-known song by songwriter, Peter Scholtes kept going through my mind;
“And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…”
Psalm 61:1 NIV