Fired Up to Serve

house_fire morgueFile Schick

Have you ever had your house catch on fire? Not just a small fire that scares you but you put it out quickly. I’m talking about a big enough blaze to burn most or all of your possessions, and leave you homeless.

I’ve had that happen. Twice.

The first time I was a baby, so I don’t remember much. The second time was just before my junior year in college. It was in the middle of football two-a-days, when lightning hit our rental house at about 10 PM. The three of us got out safely, but most of our stuff didn’t.

As dependents, we were covered under our parents insurance. But we couldn’t wait on a check from the adjuster. We needed stuff immediately, especially clothes. (Especially my roommate Chris. He ran outside in his boxers.) We spent much of the next two days talking to our parents and insurance companies, buying clothes, looking for a new place to live, and trying to still make some practices.

Even if you have insurance, having your home burn is downright inconvenient.

I’ll never forget the people who came through for us during that time. People gave us cash and gift cards. A local sporting store allowed us to get clothes, and pay for them months later. Friends let us crash on sofas, futons, and extra beds.

I hadn’t thought about that fire from August 1996 for a long time. But it all came back to me a few weeks ago, when I got a text from another Allendale coach.

“J_____ R_____’s house burned down.” (This young man is a football player who was about to graduate from Allendale-Fairfax High School.)

Not knowing more details, I tried to track him down. But he didn’t have a cell phone, and he was in and out of school for a couple of days (probably trying to get his life back together, like I had to do 17 years earlier).

Thankfully, God ordained it that we would meet, two days later at a gas station that I almost never go to (I just felt like I needed to that afternoon). I got the scoop from J_____. An appliance malfunctioned early one morning, and he and his family barely got out, but lost everything. Thankfully, he has other family that he could stay with, but needed all new clothes and other household items.

We planned that I would take him to Wal-Mart the next day. I wanted to help, but we knew we couldn’t meet his full needs. I turned to our trusty friend, Facebook. With one simple status update, I immediately had numerous offers to pitch in.

The response was overwhelming. In fact, the initial responders were so generous that I turned away 4 or 5 offers to help!

With the gifts that were promised and sent, I bought him gift cards (Wal-Mart, grocery store, Old Navy, etc), and even gave some cash. I was hesitant about this, but I knew from firsthand experience that sometimes you need to spend money on things that cash is most convenient for.

This is the point of this post: Thank You! For everyone that contributed, I am thankful that you were being sensitive to the plight of the needy. And I’m thankful and encouraged by those who offered to help, but were turned down by me. Your are just as much a part, since it could have been just as easily you who gave and someone else “rejected.”

As I explained to J______, people were giving not to solve all his problems, but to give him the boost he needed to get back on his feet. And not only was he helped financially, the generosity of others opened the door for me to be able to spend time with him and meet some of his family.

For your giving to this young man, and for supporting us in God’s ministry in Allendale, I am thankful.

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**image courtesy of Schick via


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