OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


          In September, we began a Food Box Program at OceanSide.  Each month members of the congregation fill a box with food.  Then, we deliver these boxes of food to some needy families of the Atlantic Beach Elementary School.  Most of these boxes of food have been delivered directly to the homes of those in need.  We have been able to develop some relationships with those we are helping.  Had it not been for this program, we would never have met these 17 families. 

          Like every big work the church takes on, the work becomes more difficult as time progresses.  Individuals are not as enthused.  Individuals begin to focus on the negatives.  Individuals begin to complain.  Individuals begin to leave the program.  If this continues, the program will ultimately fail.  We do not need to allow this to happen to our Food Box Program.  In this article, let’s focus on some of the positives of keeping this program alive.

          First, this program enables each of us to be more like Christ.  This is supposed to be the goal of every Christian.  We should be able to apply the words of Paul to our lives.  He wrote:  “For to me to live is Christ…” (Phil. 1:21).  Jesus was a man who was constantly doing good for others.  As Peter taught the household of Cornelius, he described Jesus with these words:  “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power:  who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).  Jesus went about doing good.  That is exactly what we are doing in our community.  We are doing good.  Food items are being distributed to families in need.  The food is not sitting upon a shelf collecting dust and going out of date. 

          Second, this program enables us to feed the hungry.  Each of these families is known by the school to be very needy.  For many of us, it is difficult to understand what it means to struggle, to be hungry, and to be dependent on others for assistance.  If we ever understood this, we would be deeply thankful for all who rendered help, especially in the form of food.  It was our Lord who taught us:  “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matt. 10:42).  Jesus also taught that these deeds which we do will be remembered in the judgment.  “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was a hungered, and ye gave me meat:  I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink…” (Matt. 25:34-35).

          Third, this program helps us to learn the definition of sacrifice.  In our recent gospel meeting with brother Melvin Otey, he emphasized sacrifice several times in his lessons.  He stated that the church has not really learned what this means.  David helps us to understand in a statement that he made about sacrifice in the long ago.  “And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price:  neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord of that which cost me nothing.  So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver” (II Sam. 24:24).  A sacrifice is that which cost us something.  Jesus understood sacrifice.  He gave up the splendors of heaven.  He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Phil. 2:6).  He offered His blood, His life, upon the cross of Calvary.  Yes, Jesus understood that sacrifice costs something.  We also need to learn what sacrifice means.  Sacrifice costs us something.  This program teaches us this every month.

          Fourth, this program helps us to have influence within a home.  So many times, we ask ourselves:  “How do we get into the homes of the people in our community?”  The only way to influence is to have access.  We get to greet and talk to these families every month.  They see that we are kind and caring people.  We leave a box of food.  This food is used for several meals.  Each time they use an item, we are having an influence.  We leave Bible material for them to read and study.  This could influence their lives and their souls at some point.  I guess we could go back to the old way.  We can bring food to the building, store it in a closet, and have no influence on others at all.  My friends, this is not why God has put OceanSide in this community.  He put us here to have an influence and to make a difference. 

          Fifth, this program may help us to save a soul.  This is not just a benevolence program.  It is evangelism and benevolence combined.  We get to talk to these individuals personally and invite them to worship, to gospel meetings, to Youth Days, to VBS, and other events at the church.  We can answer any questions that they might have about the literature we leave them each month.  If they never say a word to us, we have left materials that will penetrate the good and honest hearts that read and study it.  It may take a while to germinate.  It may not happen until those children in the homes get older.  We may never know about a person’s conversion to Christ because of our present efforts.  What matters, however, is that we are spreading the seed of the kingdom in this community (Mark 16:15-16).

          Sixth, this program helps us to overcome selfishness and out contradictory behaviors.  One of the complaints about the program is the cost per month.  We convince ourselves that we just cannot afford the cost.  This may be true of a few, but for most of us this is not the case.  We can eat out several times every month.  We can take nice vacations and will spend more than we thought that we would.  If we see something on sale, even if we do not need it, we will often buy it.  We can find the money to pay for speeding tickets, deductibles on insurance, calls from our children who might be in need, donations to a worthy charity, and a dozen other things.  Our problem is that we do not want to sacrifice.  We do not enjoy it when our Christianity really costs us something.  Program like this help us to give up our selfish desires and wants.  We have the privilege of rendering assistance to others.  Again, this is Christ-like.  “Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.  For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me” (Rom. 15:2-3).

          As I thought about this program, two verses came to my mind.  Both contain wonderful promises from God.  The first is Galatians 6:9.  “And let us not be weary in well doing:  for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  The second is I Corinthians 15:58.  “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”  Read those two verses again.  Embrace the promises.  Then, do the work!