At the conclusion of the Red River floods, an elderly couple returned to their home once the waters had receded, as the sun was sinking over the horizon. Their farm had been inundated with water to the eaves troughs. Machinery was hopelessly corroded; seed grains were soggy and useless; livestock was lost; household goods were mildewed beyond recognition; the insurance policy was swamped. No coverage could replace what thev had lost.
Though they had grown up in Christian homes, neither was particularly religious. They weren't angry dissenters or well-versed atheists. Church life had drifted away over the years like the little puffs of topsoil from their fields. No excuse, no great avalanche of animosity, just a steady decline. There was neither need nor reason to take it seriously. God had not had a high profile in their lives, but now it looked to their non-practising hearts that divine retribution and ruthless for their backsliding ways had been swift and ruthless.
Man and woman, they stood in the shambles of their living and wept. The children had long since fled the farm for better careers in the city. There was no one, not even a hired man, to undertake the rebuilding. The homestead was their life, their nest egg in retirement, and the lifeblood of their family. Now it was ruined and neither of them had the energy to build again. Restoration was as romote as the Rockies–beyond their pocketbooks and their wildest expectations.
On that evening their lives ended. Hope died.
Picture them. He stands immobilized; she is unable even to search for coffee fixings. Presently, a knock comes at the door. Fussing about being disturbed, but not wanting to be impolite, she goes to what is left of the front hall and sees standing in her door yard a crowd of men suited out with hammers, saws, and all manner of construction paraphernalia. Behind them is a flatbed loaded down with two-by-fours, plasterboard, and paint. "So," says the foremost one, "where do we start?"
Eight men and three weeks later, the farm and that couple are restored to life.
He and she were dumbstruck by the outpouring of generosity and dedication. Their crew was reticent to explain their presence, but after some pestering it was admitted that they were Christians. Apparently, as soon as these disciples had heard of the and seen the plight of flood-soaked farmers, they had loaded up their tools, gathered the good will and many donations from their town, and headed west looking to be of help.
This stewardship story is excerpted from the Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation Volume 2, "Share the Gift". This magazine and accompanying Stewardship Theme Materials Starter Kit provide a comprehensive assortment of materials for developing a customized stewardship program for your congregation. Learn more and order in the ESC web store.