Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Different Type of Ministry


My new shop has been open for three weeks now and I wake up excited and ready to face the day each morning.  Why?  Is it because I am looking forward to making money?  No, that's not it.  That has not been the driving force behind this, though of course, I want it to do well and be profitable.  We need to be able to pay our bills!

Some of reason in starting this business was for it to be an extension of my ministry here.  We live in one of the poorest counties in New York State.  Many people here are struggling to make ends meet.  Some have very little means to do that because of disabilities or other circumstances.  The poverty that is here is unlike that of the inner cities in that it is hidden.  A very large percentage of children in our public schools are on the free and reduced lunch program.  So my heart strings have been tugged by this and for many years now I have felt the burden of helping others.  But I don't want to help them by just giving handouts and quick fixes.  Some of the problem is education and knowing what to do to get themselves out from under the financial burdens they face.

On the other side of this coin, is the fact that this is a huge tourist area, especially in the spring, summer and fall.  Lake Ontario is a destination spot for many because of the beautiful campgrounds.  The town my shop is in has hundreds of salmon fishermen and their families descend upon it once the weather warms up.  So the opportunities to make money are there.

One thought that kept coming back to me repeatedly was having a way where some of the women in our area could make some income and yet, still care for their families.  Since moving here, God has opened up the doors into the artisan/crafting community and there are many women out there who make beautiful items but have no way to market them or they aren't sure how to do that.

So my desire is to help them do that.  I have been successful in running my own sewing and craft business.  I have many contacts.  I love people!  I am competent in spreadsheets and websites and navigating my way through the murky waters of running a legal business and collecting and paying sales tax in New York State.  So I want to be able to teach that to those who need help.

I love the fact that I'm helping people in both spiritual and physical ways.  We aren't just spiritual beings.  In order for people to hear about Christ, sometimes their physical, emotional, and social needs have to be met first.  On a small scale that is what I am doing.

I didn't go to church on Sunday because the community was having a huge Christmas event with activities throughout the town.  I was one of the stops during the day with a free "make and take" craft for children.  I think I had almost 40 children through the shop.  There were a few sales but my main desire was just to get the word out that I was there and to meet people in the community.  The cool thing was hearing from our church people that they were praying for me as I was out doing this.

Sometimes ministry will look a bit different than the traditional.  I'm happy that God opened up this opportunity for me.  I'm thankful that I'm able to work on the other things in my life too such as church ministry and our district ministry. I've been having time each day to catch up on email correspondence and work on other things that need to be done.

My life has been busy lately, but it's been full.  I fall into bed and sleep well each night and Jump up each morning, ready face a new day!