Jennifer Merck writes about our treasure, as measured not by how much we have, but how much we give from our hearts.“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
My husband, Hal, and I have lived in the area together for 26 years and both attended Wheaton College prior to that. From the moment we stepped foot onto Wheaton’s campus, we began to hear about Wheaton Youth Outreach and Outreach Community Ministries. We left for 3 years for graduate school and returned to area, quickly learning that the Wheaton community is a wonderful place to raise children.
We knew we were committed to giving to our church. As we considered where to direct our Kingdom dollars beyond church, Outreach stood out as a hub of activity. Everywhere we turned, we saw people in our community being helped by Outreach. Everywhere we turned, we saw the Kingdom impact of Outreach: on local churches, on local schools, on our neighborhoods. Whether talking to people of faith or non-Christian neighbors, we noticed a consensus that Outreach was doing excellent work with deep impact.
We knew that Outreach’s Kingdom work was the kind of work we could support.
As the years have passed, our respect has grown. We’ve gotten to know the young women of Hawthorne House, Outreach’s transitional housing for homeless young women (Doug & Sara Zimmerman are the house parents). We’ve purchased gifts for the annual OCC Christmas Store. We’ve sung Christmas carols with the older residents of Villagebrook Apartments. We’ve met with Outreach Community Center (OCC) parents and the staff from our local middle school as the school reached out to connect with parents in their local community. Not surprisingly, OCC was the hub where school administrators could best meet with neighborhood parents.
We have given directly to Outreach and have encouraged All Souls to continue a relationship with Outreach as well. We invite friends and family to the Hearts of Grace Women’s Luncheon in the fall and to the OCC Spring Banquet, hoping to help them engage with Outreach.
There is another way, though, that allows us to maximize the impact we have on the Kingdom work of Outreach. It’s not available for every employment situation, but if it is for yours, it’s worth looking into. My husband works for the McDonald’s Corporation, which matches our giving to Outreach, dollar for dollar. Typically, a company’s matching gift program will not give to a church, but will give to not-for-profits, so Outreach fits their requirements. The first year we set this up required a little research into McDonald’s procedures and a little back and forth to be sure Outreach was eligible to receive the matching gift. Since then, the process has been simple. What a terrific opportunity to double the impact of our gifts to Outreach!
Early in His ministry, Jesus, the itinerant Jewish rabbi, began to gather a following of disciples, those who were intrigued by His message and ministry. He taught; they listened; He retreated to a mountain; they followed Him there. And then, in the Gospel account according to Matthew, chapters 5-7, we find what we call the Sermon on the Mount. Wow! So much of the Gospel is in there — the Good News for the world. So much of what God wants for His people is in there — the work He wants us to be about, as we join with Him to usher in His Kingdom.
In Matthew 6:21, we find the verse above, about treasures and hearts. I do think our hearts tend to follow where our treasures are. As we spend and as we give, our hearts become attached to the things we buy and people and organizations we give to.
I wonder, also, if the reverse may be true: where your heart is, there is your treasure. For Hal and me and our family, we choose to allow our treasure to follow our heart for the work of God’s Kingdom. We invite you join with us and with the entire Outreach team as they bring the Good News of Shalom to the world.