Collegians Tap Inasmuch to Serve

It’s common knowledge that college students love to “give back,” or serve people in need and more of them are discovering

Virginia students serve in Inasmuch Day.

Virginia students serve in Inasmuch Day.

that the Inasmuch model is useful in achieving that worthy goal.  Last fall 46 members of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, conducted an Inasmuch Day on their campus.  They bused tables in the dining hall, picked up trash around campus and delivered homemade cookies to the campus police.  In a creative way to serve, these Inasmuch volunteers gave away toilet paper to their fellow students and wrote notes of appreciation to the faculty.

“We wanted to show our fellow students and faculty that we care about them and Inasmuch provided the structure for us to do that,” said Cheri Wise, BCM Minister.  “We all wore Inasmuch T-shirts and so were visible as we served throughout the day.”

A second Inasmuch Day is planned for this spring at Longwood, this time with 2 other Christian organizations participating.  Word of Inasmuch at Longwood spread to the Baptist Campus Ministry at Old Dominion University in eastern Virginia.  The ODU group conducted their first Inasmuch Day on February 7 & 8.  With only 25 students participating they conducted more than a dozen projects.

Scott Anderson, BCM Minister at ODU said:  “The feeling I got from the students is that serving people becomes contagious.  They want more and have already asked when we can do this again.  Their eyes were definitely opened to the needs of people around them.”

Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity at the University of Tennessee conducted their first Inasmuch Day on November 2, 2013.  A Christian fraternity, BYX is intentional about incorporating compassion ministry in their fraternity life.  The group mobilized 8 teams of volunteers in November.  They constructed a wheelchair ramp for disabled widow, painted transitional housing for FOCUS Prison Ministries, sorted donated items at the Salvation Army and Angelic Ministries in Knoxville.

University of Tennessee BXY Fraternity students during their Inasmuch event.

University of Tennessee BXY fraternity students sort and organize items for an agency during their Inasmuch event.

Reporting their ministry to a group of Inasmuch supporters the following day, Preston Morris, Chaplain for BYX, said:  “We thoroughly enjoyed working with Operation Inasmuch in organizing our service projects.  It was a big help for them to facilitate our contacts with organizations here in Knoxville who could use our help.”

BYX is planning a second Inasmuch Day this spring.  Meeting with David Crocker, Executive Director of the Inasmuch Ministry, Blake Barton BYX Service Chair said:  “We’re excited about making a difference even while we are students.  Serving people in need is most definitely part of the Christian life and we provide these events as a way of reinforcing that understanding.”

Crocker says:  “Our ultimate goal is to catalyze a compassion revolution.  Working with these college groups does much to encourage us that such a movement is in fact in process.  As many of these students eventually become leaders in congregations across the country, our hope is that they will take their experiences with Inasmuch with them and bring those congregations into the revolution as well.”

Inasmuch Revival Produces 125% Participation

What’s an Inasmuch Revival?  It is an effective, intensive way of motivating church folk to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their community.  In September, Colosse Baptist Church, West Point, VA, conducted their first Inasmuch Day.  They had 125% of their average Sunday attendance involved!!  They attribute much of that extraordinary success to what they call an Inasmuch Revival—a series of church renewal services the week of their Inasmuch Day.  Phil Peacock, pastor of Broadus Memorial Baptist Church nearby, preached the revival.  Broadus had conducted their first Inasmuch Day in 2012 and Peacock often referenced his church’s experience with Inasmuch as he preached in Colosse.  Steve Smith, Pastor at Colosse says:  “The revival really helped prepare our congregation to participate in Operation Inasmuch.” 

David Crocker, Executive Director of the national Inasmuch Ministry says:  “What’s interesting about Colosse’s experience is that this is precisely the way Inasmuch happened initially in 1995!  Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, Fayetteville, pioneered Operation Inasmuch at the conclusion of a series of renewal services.  We found it to be enormously effective in motivating folks to get involved and apparently Colosse in Virginia has made the same discovery.”

Although Colosse Baptist is located in a rural area and they are not a large church by any measurement, they achieved 125% participation as folk who rarely attend worship and college students came home that weekend to participate.  Holding the revival services with compassion ministry as the focus Sunday through Wednesday prior to their Inasmuch Day on Saturday clearly enhanced their overall experience.

               Mark Townsend, Colosse’s Inasmuch Coordinator says the church conducted 24 projects in their Inasmuch Day—food collection for food pantries, sewing pillowcases for a nearby hospital, assisting customers at a local Laundromat, clothing and money giveaways at a local gas station, visiting a juvenile detention center, and many others.  He adds that one of the keys to their success is the training they received from the Inasmuch ministry several months earlier.  Also, they purchased the Inasmuch Day Training Kit which provided lots of useful resources and instructions as they prepared for their event.

Townsend smiles when he tells about Colosse’s celebration.  He says in his church folk sometimes complain when Sunday worship runs past Noon.  But on the Sunday following Inasmuch, the pastor asked people to share from their experiences with Inasmuch the day before.  THAT day worship ran until 1:00 “and no one complained!” says Townsend.

“Our people are already talking about our Inasmuch for next year,” says Townsend.  “Inasmuch has helped us see some of the needs in our community AND our ability to meet those needs.  We are a different church today because of Inasmuch.”

Inasmuch Spans the Rappahannock

The Rappahannock River runs from about King George, Virginia (east of Interstate 95) to the Chesapeake Bay.  As it gets closer to the Chesapeake, it becomes a substantial river of up to 1.5 miles wide!  Turns out this expansive river is not much of a barrier for Inasmuch!

Essex County, Virginia is on the western shore of the Rappahannock.  In 2008 about 20 churches there conducted their first Inasmuch United Essex and have followed every year since with more churches and more volunteers each year.  In recent years organizers have talked about taking a year off, but the churches have resisted.  They say it is one of the most significant events in their community all year!

Inasmuch United Rappahannock

In 2009 word about Inasmuch “floated” across the Rappahannock to the region known as Northern Neck Virginia which includes the counties on the eastern shore of the Rappahannock.  In 2010 a number of congregations in Richmond and Westmoreland Counties conducted their first Inasmuch United Northern Neck event.  It expanded the following year to include congregations in Northumberland County.

“On Saturday, September 28, hundreds of local Operation Inasmuch volunteers wearing conspicuous red shirts will once again be working throughout the Northern Neck as part of the fourth annual Inasmuch United Northern Neck event,” reads the opening line of the lead article in the Northern Neck News, September 20 issue.  The article continues:  “At 8:00 AM volunteers from three counties representing over twenty churches and several local organizations will begin work on numerous projects in the community to help neighbors in need.”

David Crocker, Executive Director of Operation Inasmuch, Inc., says:  “Needless to say, the expansion of Inasmuch in northeastern Virginia is gratifying.  I just wish everyone associated with Inasmuch, especially our donors, could hear how excited believers on both sides of the Rappahannock are about Inasmuch.  At a workshop I led in Virginia last May, a person involved in the Inasmuch United Northern Neck went on and on about what Inasmuch has meant to that region.”

The Rappahannock is fast becoming a model for the rest of Virginia.  Plans are underway for a statewide Inasmuch in October of 2014.  The goal is to have 80 percent of the Baptist churches in the state conduct Inasmuch events across the state during a period of 4 weeks.  The Inasmuch ministry is working with the Steering Committee of Operation Inasmuch – Virginia to accomplish these lofty goals.  Already 3 Inasmuch training sessions have been conducted in the state with 2 more set for this October and as many as half a dozen next March.

Says David Crocker:  “No river is too wide and no mountain is too high for Inasmuch to get across it with the message that God’s mercy is best shown, then talked.  Without a doubt, Inasmuch is changing the way people in Virginia think about church!”

Inasmuch Adds New Ministry

First Question:  What is essential, inexpensive, nutritious, fun to make, comes in a cardboard box and feeds 216 hungry people?  Answer:  One box of 36 bags of Kids Against Hunger meals packed by volunteers and sent to a third world country.

Second Question:  What is the latest compassion ministry offered by the national office of Operation Inasmuch?  Answer:  Packing low-cost, nutritious meals through the Kids Against Hunger program, thousands at a time.

Fun Food Packing

Kids Against Hunger food packing events are perfect for almost all ages and bring people together working, across generational lines.

Operation Inasmuch, Inc. became an official satellite of Kids Against Hunger (KAH) in March.  As such the Inasmuch ministry is now able to offer congregations, church groups and businesses the opportunity to pack a large number of dehydrated meals that are sent to Haiti and other third world countries.  “We applied to become a KAH satellite because we see this ministry, feeding hungry people, as aligning perfectly with our mission of mobilizing believers to minister to people at their point of need,” says David Crocker, Executive Director of the Inasmuch ministry.  “Also, we see it as an opportunity to offer a new way to serve for those churches already using the Inasmuch model.  Finally, we see the food packing project as a simple and effective way of bringing congregations together as part of a larger Inasmuch United event.”  Kids Against Hunger (www.kidsagainsthunger.com) is an international food-aid organization founded in 1999 “to reduce the number of hungry children in the USA and to feed starving children throughout the world.”  The Inasmuch ministry is one of about 100 satellites across the nation affiliated with KAH based on New Hope, Minnesota, outside Minneapolis.  Last year alone, KAH satellites packed forty million meals for hungry people around the world!

Food packing events are fun and build a community spirit for the group working together.

The Inasmuch ministry has already conducted two KAH packing events:  Central Baptist Church of Bearden, Knoxville, TN on March 17—53,118 meals packed—and Faith Promise Church, Knoxville, TN on April 13—50,000 meals packed.  More than 300 volunteers were involved at Central Baptist and about 170 at Faith Promise.

Crocker says, “The food packing endeavor will never become the primary aspect of the Inasmuch ministry, merely an ‘add-on’ for those churches that either want to introduce a new ‘wrinkle’ into their ongoing Inasmuch events or want to use the packing as a sort of stack pole project for an Inasmuch United event.”

“Because of the logistics of staging a KAH packing event, far and away most of them will be within a short radius of Knoxville,” adds Crocker.  “Occasionally, when the event is large enough to merit the efforts required to move the packing equipment a long distance, we will undertake packing projects at some distance from our home office in Knoxville.”

Churches interested in staging a food packing event should contact the Inasmuch ministry at 865-951-2511 or david@operationinasmuch.org.

God Winks at Fort Myers

Inasmuch United Fort Myers…HUGE Success!!

Have you seen God wink?  Silly question, you say.  No one sees God, much less His wink!  Some compassionate souls at Fort Myers, Florida, would beg to differ.  They were part of the first Inasmuch United Fort Myers on February 2 and some of them saw God wink.

God winks when our plans go wrong and where they put us is just the place God wants us to be.  We make a wrong turn on a journey only to discover an opportunity we would have missed if we had stayed “on course” and God winks. We fail to get the job of our dreams only to learn later that the company was on shaky ground and soon folded and God winks.

Ready to work...

Ready for a painting project … wonder where he saw God wink during his Inasmuch United Fort Myers experience.

Nine congregations of various denominations and races united in Fort Myers to mobilize right at 1000 people to minister to thousands of their neighbors in need in 75 compassion ministry projects and God was winking the entire day.  One wink was when a volunteer named John went to a Laundromat to “feed the machines,” e.g. pay for up to 3 loads of laundry for customers on the day of the Inasmuch United.  But John went to the wrong Laundromat, but instead of correcting his error, he stayed and served the people there.  One woman was suspicious of his offer to pay for her laundry, so John explained that he was helping out with his community’s Inasmuch because God had been good to him and he wanted to share some of the blessing.  The woman not only accepted his help but also shared that she had recently lost her husband.  As a way of dealing with her grief she had started a blog for other grieving people.  She had just received a response from a woman in another Florida city who had just lost her son to suicide.   Well, . . . John and his wife lost their son to suicide 30 years ago.  So, John and his wife are now communicating with that mother in the other city.  And God winked.

Another volunteer was disappointed to discover on the day of the Inasmuch United Fort Myers that the project she had signed up to do had fallen through at the last minute.  She asked to be reassigned and didn’t really care to which project.  She was sent to a house that was to be pressure washed and painted—with stucco exterior.  Until she arrived no one realized that the project leader had purchased the wrong kind of paint.  Since this volunteer and her husband own a paint store, she went to her store and got the correct paint and donated it to the project.  And God winked.  Next year, she and her husband will donate all the paint to be used on all the painting projects!  So, God may be winking for a long time in Fort Myers.

David Crocker, who went to Fort Myers to train church leaders there to plan and conduct their Inasmuch United event, says:  “These stories illustrate a truth we often hear from folk who participate in an Inasmuch event, namely whenever we do what God tells us to do, He always has more in mind.  When we are obedient to his calling to serve people in need in Jesus’ name, He takes our sometimes simple acts of obedience and does far more with them than we could ever expect.”

Being the Hands and Feet of Jesus by helping to feed the hungry … another Inasmuch United Fort Myers project.

 

When has God winked during your Inasmuch experience?  “God has winked at Inasmuch so many times in recent years that we’ve lost count!” says Crocker.

Inasmuch Assembles 11,000 Meals for the Hungry

In October the Inasmuch ministry assembled more than 11,000 meals to feed hungry people in Haiti with the help of people who gathered in Fayetteville, NC, and Knoxville, TN, to consider their support for the ministry for 2013.  That’s right; these annual fundraising events became major service events!


Executive Director, David Crocker (left), and Robert Marks, Sr. (right) Board President, enjoy watching the meals being packed.

Fundraising is the lifeblood of non-profits.  It is all  about obtaining the support necessary to keep the organization going.  So, when a non-profit turns its annual fundraising events into  service projects whereby thousands of hungry people are supplied with nutritious meals, it’s noteworthy.

“Our fundraising events each year are the largest gatherings of people who support the Inasmuch ministry,” said David Crocker, Executive Director.  “This year we wanted these events to be more than simply sharing the latest and greatest news about the ministry and asking people to support us so we can keep on doing the good work of Inasmuch.  So we invited Kids Against Hunger to come direct food packing projects in Fayetteville and Knoxville to feed hungry people in Haiti.”


The food packing fun began in Fayetteville…

Participants remarked how refreshing it was to do something to help others while renewing or beginning their support for a ministry that is based on the idea of believers serving “the least of these.”  While some were treated to a delicious meal, others packed food for Haiti.  After about half an hour, the groups rotated so that everyone had a chance to help out.  5,040 meals were packed in Fayetteville and 6,024 meals in Knoxville.


And the fun continued in Knoxville!

“We had a about a 60 percent increase in attendance at our fundraising events this year and I am convinced it was because we offered folk a chance actually to do something to serve others,” said Crocker.  “Everyone had a blast.  It was fun and productive and will make a huge difference in the lives other lots of people.  We didn’t just feed ourselves; we fed many more who will never have what we ate at those events.”

He added:  “We are already talking about what we will do next year.  We may go for 20,000 meals!  Wouldn’t that be something?!  Of course, I’m hoping people will see that Inasmuch is about serving people in need . . . anytime, anywhere, any way, even when the ministry has needs ourselves.”

“We are very excited about the future of Inasmuch,” he says.  “With continued and some new support, there is no telling what God will do with this ministry!”

Compassion in Music

A nearby church has been listening to God through the Ten Commandments.  As part of their effort to hear God speak afresh, they commissioned Ken Medema, well-known Christian recording artist, to write a song about each one of the Commandments. Each week a Commandment song has been presented in the worship services.

The Eighth Commandment — “Thou shalt not steal” — is not normally associated with compassion.  But Medema’s song exposes a compassionate side to the straightforward warning against taking what is not ours.  Here are the first two verses:

If I live as if the world and its wealth were my private property,
While my sisters and my brothers live in grinding poverty,
Is this not stealing?
Surely, it must be,
When some folk live with nothing at all and some in luxury.

If I feast until I am more than filled and throw the rest away,
While my sisters and my brothers live with nothing to eat today,
Is this not stealing?
What is there more to say,
When some folk have too much to each and some are turned away?

Lord forgive us all our stealing ways
And turn our hearts again to you,
Your commandment to obey.

(Ken Medema Music/Brier Patch Music/ASCAP, 2012)

Surely Medema has his finger on the pulse of compassion; it begins with an attitude of stewardship!

Is Compassion Seasonal?

Here’s a question for Christmas: Is compassion seasonal?

How many people do you know who are conscientious in serving people in need at Christmas but do not give it much thought at other times? Is compassion ministry another item on our Christmas To-Do list like shopping, attending parties, and the Christmas Eve service at church?

Benevolent ministry leaders are quick to lament the fact that so many people seem motivated to serve others only at Christmas. We talk about the need, even the desire, to have the Christmas spirit year round — which presumably would include serving people in need — but does it happen?

When Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you have done it [given clothes to the naked, visited the sick or imprisoned, given food for the hungry], you have done it for me,” he wasn’t thinking about Christmas.

When he told those in his hometown of Nazareth what he would be doing in his public ministry (Luke 4: 18-19) and, by implication, announced what his followers would do, he was not talking about Christmas.

How DO we perpetuate that onlinepharmacies247.com/imitrex.html part of the Christmas spirit that motivates us to serve people in need year round?

It begins with an understanding that compassion ministry is an indispensable part of being a follower of Jesus.  All of Scripture makes that clear, especially the Gospels.

In the remaining days of this Christmas, when most of the hectic stuff is over, why not spend a little time reflecting on how to extend the Christmas spirit well into 2012?

As you think about what you’d like to accomplish in the New Year, why not re-read the Gospel of Luke, the most compassionate of the Gospels, and listen to God’s voice to you?

The Inasmuch ministry is about motivating, equipping and deploying believers throughout the Kingdom into lifestyle compassion ministry—serving people in need using one’s life experiences, passions and skills as a matter lifestyle.

To put it another way, Inasmuch Life perpetuates that part of the Christmas spirit which leads us all to be more compassionate and generous than normal. Inasmuch Life means keeping the spirit of Christmas all the time.

Merry Christmas from the Inasmuch Team.

The Hard Truth

A revolution is a movement — usually a radical and exciting movement — to change something: the government, one or more leaders as we have seen in the “Arab spring,” or longstanding cultural traditions such as the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. a few decades ago.

A revolution always includes the proclamation of the truth, often hard truth or truth that is hard to hear. Dr. Wade Bibb of Central Baptist Church Bearden, Knoxville, TN, told a story recently that comes from a revolutionary and compassionate mind.

Dr. Bibb was invited by members of his church to have Sunday dinner following the morning worship service. Once they were seated at a restaurant and everyone ordered, he was asked to say the blessing. (He added > parenthetically: “We preachers are never off.”)

Here is what he prayed:

Lord, bless the food we are about to eat . . . even though we don’t need it. We all eat more than we need already. We eat way more than most people in the world. Even so, we ask that you bless this food and us with it. Amen.”

When he looked up from his prayer, everyone at the table was silent and (appropriately) confronted by the truth, the hard truth.

Bibb was never again asked to say the blessing with that group. I don’t know if he was even asked to eat with them again…!

David Crocker, Executive Director

Pastors Say What’s Important

Do you ever wonder what pastors worry about? What they think is important?

The Columbia Partnership (TCP, an Inasmuch ministry partner – visit www.thecolumbiapartnership.org) hopes to help us learn what pastors are concerned about. TCP is conducting a series of surveys of pastors and church staff to identify the most important issues they face. The first of these surveys asks the leaders to rate each of 10 issues:

  • Building,
  • Technology/Social Media/Marketing,
  • Community Context,
  • Discipleship,
  • Financial,
  • Worship and Music,
  • Conflict and Communication,
  • Governance,
  • Leadership Development,
  • Growth and/or Missional issues.

The runaway “most important issues” were:

  • Growth and/or Missional Issues (92% Significantly or Highly Important) and
  • Discipleship Issues (86% Significantly or Highly Important).

This tells us is that ministry leaders on the front lines are most concerned about how the church is equipping their people to be authentic followers of Jesus in a post-church culture.

It’s encouraging to know that Operation Inasmuch’s ministry “scratches where ministers itch.” That is to say, we provide motivation, education, and structure to help believers do what Jesus did and what He commanded his followers to do.

Increasingly, authenticity is measured not in theological terms or denominational affiliation, but in hands-on demonstrations of  Jesus’ heart in local communities.  Operation Inasmuch has helped hundreds of congregations to be the hands and feet of Jesus for their neighbors in need.

In fact, the best explanation of the astounding growth of the Inasmuch ministry is that it provides proven ways for churches to walk the game they talk.

Based on the TCP survey, it appears that the need addressed by Operation Inasmuch is on the rise: to get church people out of the sanctuary seats and into the streets! Perhaps God put Operation Inasmuch in place to help His people do what He called them to do.

Perhaps A Compassion Revolution really is underway! To God be the glory!!

David Crocker, Executive Director