The Fruits of His Church

Titus’s Thinking Tales
Before Libby and I left Texas to intern here at Richland, we had a bizarre experience with one of our neighbors. As Libby and I got back from the gym, we were stopped by a tenant in our apartments. He told us his name was Nikolai and that he was new in the neighborhood, and after a bit of friendly conversation, he offered to have us over for dinner the next night. Naturally, we accepted.

Once we got to his apartment for dinner, we realized there was something missing. There was not much furnishing in his apartment, and we quickly began to realize the state of their living situation. After dinner, Nikolai had asked to visit with me alone, where he shared a lot of personal information with me. It turns out that, due to a series of unfortunate events, Nikolai, his wife Jacinda, and their three kids were on the brink of being homeless. Nikolai had just lost one of his infant children and consequently lost his job due to his long hospital visits. The hospital bills began to pile up as well, resulting in their only choice being to dip into their savings, which now is completely gone.
In that conversation after dinner, Nikolai humbly asked for any kind of resource we could provide since he knew we went to church. I was torn because I didn’t know if we could fully trust him, at least when it came to money, because we had just met. But he is fairly new to Christianity and the church, so I wanted to do my best to represent Christ’s church to him. In one of the other conversations we had, Nikolai had told me about his recent experience with a church in the area.

He had found the church and was wanting to go, so he called them and asked if they could help in any way, to which they said they could. So he showed up in person, and one of the elders was there to greet him, but when the elder saw Nikolai’s sleeves of tattoos and his piercings, he immediately asked Nikolai if he worshiped Satan. As you can imagine, Nikolai was uncomfortable being there after that and was disappointed with the way he was treated. Because of this experience of his, we wanted him to feel the unconditional love of God through us and those willing to help.

Eventually, I was able to pray with him and offer some financial help to cover his food expenses for the remainder of the month, to which he was astounded and grateful. The following day, I reached out to as many establishments that I thought could help, as well as asking friends from church if they could pray for Nikolai and his family if they knew how to help in any way, or if they at least knew of a service that could.

What was originally a very stressful and daunting situation quickly turned into an experience of what the church in Acts 2 was like when it came to meeting each other’s needs.

Acts 2:44-45 reads, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”

A couple of our friends sent us money to give to Nikolai and his family, and a few others gave details on food pantries in the area that he could go to. Libby and I came to peace with giving their family more money than we initially thought we would because we decided to trust that God was using us to minister and connect with this family in need. Their groceries and their rent have been covered for this next month due to the generosity of God’s people, which gives Nikolai more time to get a stable job again. He had two opportunities lined up before we left, and he should have started them by now, so we’re praying they go well.

A verse that I love is John 15:5. Here, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

I connect this verse to the situation with Nikolai because it was not by our efforts that he got help; it was God seeing the need and putting us in the position to be able to help. This verse is a good reminder to me and Libby of the importance of being the fruit of the vine and being that example to those we encounter. We all know actions speak louder than words, but nothing speaks louder than the Word.

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