"This is such a vital part of this incredible work that God continues to allow us to do in Regent Park." - Larry Johnson, LifeBUILDERS Executive Director
This month, we are honored to have a guest blog from our dear friend, Len Crowley. We hope you enjoy his encouraging words as much as we have.
In the final chapter of one of his letters from prison (Philippians 4:10-20), Paul mentions “the matter of giving and receiving.” In so doing he introduces a mutual relationship between the two. The giving/receiving transaction has two sides; and both sides benefit greatly.
While in a Roman jail the Apostle Paul celebrates his companionship and the partnership he has with the church in that far off Greek city. They have been the few generous ones who helped Paul and sustained him during his dire circumstances. He is extremely grateful. In fact, the entire book of Philippians can rightly be seen as a “thank you letter” to those faithful believers.
The phrase Paul employs in verse 15 – the matter of giving and receiving – implies reciprocity. Though not well understood or appreciated, reciprocity is almost a rhythmic dance between the giver and the receiver in any situation. In the surrounding passage there are at least 10 benefits of the “matter.” The matter, in this case, being reciprocity. Fascinatingly, there are more than twice as many benefits for the giver as the receiver. We know that Jesus said about “more blessed to give” in Acts 20:35. This is what Paul is talking about.
In the giving/receiving equation we most often focus on the needs and thankfulness of the receiver. Most of the communication seems to originate with them. Their story and impact dominate the conversation. But take a look at Philippians 4:10-20.
For the receiver (Paul in this case) there are three obvious benefits:
· Joy – (v 10). He is remembered, shown concern, and cared for. How delightful when laboring in a hard or far away place to have those at home “see” you in your circumstances.
· Contentment – (v 11). Paul calls this a “secret.” It is a wonder, seeing all supply as from God through the hands of faithful friends. If God Himself is the provider, it is both according to His riches – infinite and abundant (v. 19) and it will be enough – sufficient to the need.
· Strengthening – (v 13). Endurance is hard work. The encouragement of my companions in the Gospel renews me daily.
All good things. It is truly a blessing to receive as well.
Now, look at the benefits that accrue to the givers.
· It is a “good work” – (v. 14). Sharing our resources with others is a visible demonstration of the goodness and grace of God. Giving lights the world and honors God (Matthew 5: 14-16).
· It “profits” the giver – (v 17). Giving increases our “account” in heaven. Jesus encourages such long-term investment (Matthew 6:19-20).
· It expands our heart and love. Where our money goes, our hearts naturally follow – not the other way around (Matthew 6:21).
· It pleases God – (v 18). As the “fragrant aroma” of summer BBQ or fresh baked bread does to our sense of smell, giving is such a delight and brings a smile to the face of God.
· It is a sacrifice to God – (v 18). True sacrifice focuses attention on Who I am worshipping, not on what I gave up. So it was with Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the cross (Not my will… Matthew 26:39).
· It fulfills stewardship – In my responsibility as one with God’s resources I am required to be diligent in my giving (1 Corinthians 4:2).
· It reflects dependence on God – (v 19). Giving initiates with God; givers are His conduits, and themselves recipients.
· It brings glory to God – (v 20). As Church Creeds have long suggested, our chief end as His children – and our great joy – is to bring honor, praise, and glory to our Father who is in heaven.
For the actual recipients of this letter, the Philippians themselves, there is another, lasting benefit. They received the privilege and honor of having the Word of God written to them, about them, and by their example influenced generations to come in the matter of giving and receiving. What an impact their giving had on them and on us still today.
Remember Paul’s message as you give – you are blessed by it in so many ways. For recipients, you too are blessed as partners in the great dance celebrating God’s goodness.
Former Managing Director
COUNSEL & CAPITAL
Thanks to your prayers and continuing support 2017 was a monumental year for LifeBUILDERS.
A record number of 8 newly renovated houses were provided to new tenants, vacant areas filled with blight were cleaned up and maintained, and construction began on a state of the art Head Start facility right here in Regent Park. In addition, LifeBUILDERS summer camp reached 85 students and continues to be a model camp for Regent Park children, encompassing educational and fun activities. 15 teens from our community were trained as counselors for our 2017 camp.
· Our Annual Gala in October at the historic Gem Theatre in Detroit was sold out. More financial support was received at the Gala than any single event in our history. We thank God for the generosity of so many.
· We received the largest number of grant commitments in our history allowing us to restore homes, remove blight and create new outdoor community spaces for our community and even hire key personnel.
· LifeBUILDERS was welcomed into the Ford Resource & Engagement Center at Fisher Magnet Middle School (right in our community) to bring our Liturgical Dance program to more youth in our community.
· Our Thanksgiving program was the most impactful in our history. Hundreds of families met their neighbors, were able to pray with LifeBUILDERS team-members, and received a full Thanksgiving dinner to prepare at home.
· 75 families were provided the opportunity to shop at our Christmas Store for new gifts that were donated by so many amazing LifeBUILDERS supporters. The Christmas Store is a unique opportunity for supporters to donate items and residents to purchase those items knowing that proceeds from their purchase are also giving back to the LifeBUILDERS mission.
· Three more children in our community received scholarships to Parkway Christian School. That makes a total of 6 Regent Park students now receiving scholarships to Parkway Christian School!
Here’s what’s ahead in 2018
· Expansion of a main community park that will be available for use to all residents. This park adjoins the Early Childhood Education (ECE) facility under construction right in the center of our community. We are calling this THE CAMPUS.
· Added programs and events for community residents to allow them to meet one another, hear God’s Word and continue to have hope restored in Regent Park. Our summer Tent Meetings at the park, senior exercise program (Holy Yoga) and youth initiatives are just a few of the activities that we plan to continue and grow in 2018.
· Added scholarships to Parkway Christian School increasing our investment in the lives of Regent Park youth. These scholarships offer an excellent Christian education, developing our next faithful leaders.
· Community revitalization projects working with volunteer groups to renovate outdoor spaces, vacant lots and remodel homes.
· Expanded Summer Camp Program to now offer Cooking Camp, Sports Camp, Computer Camp & More! Summer college internships and neighborhood youth again being trained as camp counselors.
There is so much happening here at LifeBUILDERS, it’s hard to just name a few items! We encourage you to come out and see for yourself, take a tour and see all that is happening! If you have friends or co-workers interested in a place to give back and truly see God’s work being done in a NE Detroit neighborhood, please have them reach out to us at info@LifeBUILDERSDetroit.com or by calling 313-401-5433. Spring and Summer housing renovation and community clean-up volunteer opportunities are plentiful. Be sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter for more updates!
Many thanks, again, for your faithful partnership with us here at LifeBUILDERS.
Larry, Marilyn & LifeBUILDERS Team