Tuesday, October 28, 2014
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Hunger still exists: 31st Harvest of Talents, because there is a need

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[October 28, 2014]  LINCOLN - Fifteen percent of the world's population is currently malnourished or starving. Every time you count to five another child will die of starvation. Poverty, lack of seed, insects, drought, floods, war, disease, etc. are all causes of hunger for people around the world.

In 1983, after listening to a sermon series on social issues that included a sermon on World Hunger, a young woman had a dream to help feed hungry children. Along with then Lincoln Christian Church senior minister, Gene Shepherd; Pat Snyder formed a committee to help, and "Harvest of Talents" became a reality on October 27, 1984. The special event has taken place every year since then on the fourth Saturday of October.

I Peter 4:10 tells us, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (New International Version)

Over the years, some donors choose to create handmade items like woodcarvings, chairs, quilts and crafts. Others have donated baked items, homemade jellies and jams, fresh produce, plants, or their soda cans for recycling. Still others open their homes for a "Holiday Tour," share their garden for a "Garden Walk," or participate in the YMCA sponsored "5K Run and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk." Regardless of what each person chooses to do for the Harvest: pray, cook, clean, set-up/tear-down, walk, run, eat, build, craft, recycle, golf, etc; everyone who has participated has a story about the Harvest.

Gene, who now lives with his family in California, shared this story during the Harvest of Talents worship service on Sunday morning:

As preparation took place for the first harvest, 31 years ago, an elderly lady came to the church office with her donation. Her hands were crippled with arthritis and her eyesight was failing but if the harvest was going to happen, she was going to be part of it. She realized, no matter what, that's what God needed her to do.

So, on that morning, in the church office, she presented for the harvest a red and white quilt that she had hand stitched with a desire to help feed the hungry and a heart to serve God. As anyone would when presented with a quilt, the office staff opened the folded quilt to appreciate the gift.

Though the sewing was not perfect, they all admired the blanket and thanked June for sharing her talent. As Gene started to refold the quilt, corner to corner, they all realized the quilt was "not exactly square." But June reminded them, "It would keep people warm."

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One side of the quilt was 16 to 18 inches longer than the other. Without hesitation Gene replied, "We'll sell it to a tall man who is married to a short woman."

Gene shared that his only regret about this story is that he didn't buy the quilt that first harvest. You see, "Every gift is special and hallowed and sanctified by the heart of the person who gave it. God will use it in a miraculous way." We know this to be true because Matthew 10:42 tells us, "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." (New International Version)

Every penny raised at the Harvest is donated to International Disaster Emergency Services for hunger victims. This year a check was presented to I.D.E.S. in the amount of $98,533.56. Since the inception of the "Harvest of Talents," Lincoln Christian Church has donated $1,917,746.94 to help feed people in Haiti, Ghana, India, the Sudan and more. Harvests have taken place at other churches in California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana and Kansas.

The vision is catching, that whatever the talent God will bless it and turn it into money that will help relieve world hunger. Jesus said, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me . . . I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:25-40 NIV)

[Lisa Ramlow]

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