Someone asked me where I had been to preach during April 2014 and I commented that I was in Manchester and Florence. The person responded by saying that it must be exciting to go to Italy and England. I quickly had to correct them and say that it was Manchester, Tennessee, and Florence, Alabama. I am going on April 27, to Columbia – that’s not South Carolina but South America.
I had a marvelous time in both of these places. There was an interesting experience that occurred while I was in Florence. It involved seeing a need – and meeting it.
The Oak Park Trailer Park in Florence has been without water for its residents for 10 days. The park owner, Billy Williamson, did not pay the water bill. This meant that people had to actually carry water to the trailer park, if they had any.
Some people in a small church found out about the situation. At the close of the worship service on Sunday, April 6, a lady, Sarah Thompson, suggested that they needed to take a special offering to help get water to the people. They put an offering plate in the back of the church so people could contribute as they left church.
They did not know the amount of the water bill, but wanted to give people an opportunity to help.
The Pastor, Shane Swinney, and two of the church elders took the money and counted it. On Monday they went down to the utilities company and inquired about the amount of the water bill. They were told that the bill was $1,600.48. The three people looked at each other, almost in disbelief, because they had counted the money, which amounted to $1,600.50!
They had a worship service there at the water company! They exclaimed how good God was – He even provided an extra 2¢!
God is always in charge. He knows exactly what is needed. He has people who can meet that need. I really wonder what would have happened if God wanted somebody to give on that Sunday and they didn’t give – or they gave less than God had instructed them? The water bill would have come up short.
Some of the members stated that they were more blessed than the people who received the water. They discovered the basic principle “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) Sarah Thompson said, “They were so thankful and shocked that someone who didn’t know them would help them. To me it was sad that they were shocked that someone would help them.”
I also learned that the First United Methodist Church building burned during the big depression of the 30’s. People were unable to rebuild the church. A Jewish gentleman in the community found out about the need and decided he needed to do something to help. He gave a large financial contribution and contacted some banker friends in New York City who were willing to underwrite the cost of the building. A need – and a Jewish gentleman met that need. Visit some time the First United Methodist Church in Florence. It is a magnificent structure.
God uses people to meet the needs of other people. What need is God prompting you and me to meet today?