By Guest Writer Hillary Heitzman
“You are only as good as your grades.” “You can’t pay attention.” “You’re not smart enough. Good enough. Strong enough. Enough.” This can be the daily rhetoric for some kids. This might be their normal. This is the start of a sad story. We need heroes that can change that. That will be brave and bold enough to say, “No! You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are smart. You are good. You are enough. You ARE important.” But, wait. I witnessed just this kind of declaration at an unlikely place this past week. I watched people file into a building, pledge dollar after dollar of support. I watched kids who felt important, special even, line up to help these people. My heart overflowed with joy. Here’s the beautiful thing:
It happened here. In this church. YOU are the hero of this story.
Thank you isn’t enough. I could say thank you for the money, donations, time, showing up. I could say thank you for the fish supper. But, it’s simply not enough. Because it was more than all those things. It was more than a “simple” bake sale. Ocilla United Methodist Church, the United Methodist Men, and YOU showed a group of kids LOVE. You took a stand on Monday night against that negative rhetoric. Those kids will never be the same for witnessing your care, concern, and sharing. And for that, I am eternally grateful. See, I was one of those kids not too long ago. (Well, let’s be honest, it’s been a while.) I remember adults who were not in my immediate family pouring into me: teaching me in Sunday school, being my mentor through Confirmation, giving me keepsakes, telling me they were happy to see me, and letting me serve in my church. I know that what this congregation and visitors did on Monday night was more than show up. You showed out. You showed the love of Christ. Thank you for giving, sharing, praying, showing up, and being used by God. Thank you for allowing God to move in our church and impact our youth in a way that is changing lives daily. Thank you for being the heroes of our story and helping us share the gospel with our youngest generations. The bake sale is a legacy. It’s not something that people outside of our church understand. I heard one visitor mutter incredulously, “Did that cake just go for two HUNDRED something dollars?!?!?!” I whispered back, “It seems unusual, but this is tradition. I promise, these people are opening their wallets for more than just cake.”
I am excited to watch even more stories unfold as we, together, continue to show love and be heroes in our church and community.
That’s right! On October 16 we get to eat some fish and spend some money! The Dix Family continues their unselfish service as Raye and Charlie Harper supply and cook our fish this year. The United Methodist Men work hard every year planning, organizing and supplying the rest of the food and the service.
But that’s only part of the tale. You bring the cakes and other goodies we sell to raise money for our flourishing Children’s and Youth program.
Thanks to Hillary Heitzman, her husband Mike, Mike Green, and a slew of generous volunteers each Wednesday night, we have a large crew and a large time! You’ll see many of these kids attending Sunday School and Sunday worship. They come to receive Spiritual food and the other kind too. Some of them will be there helping us as we enjoy the company, the fish, and have some fun!
We eat at 6:00. The fish fry is free. The auction will start about 6:30 and continue until you buy it all!
We welcome you to bring a friend for the event, just make sure you fill them in about our purpose. I wouldn’t want them to leave their wallets at home!
As Kathy and I traveled the California roadways, we often thought of you. Traveling from Carmel to Yosemite through the central valley we saw the crops of strawberries, artichokes, and other produce much like the fields of South Georgia. As our weather became the talk of the nation, we watched from afar as people prepared. We heard the stories of gas, bread, and water being “sold out’ at the stores.
To the South Georgia Conference:
We in South Georgia know the lasting impact of kind words, good deeds, of prayers made on our behalf. Even if we had not had three disaster events in our Annual Conference within the past year, the South Georgia Conference would want to reach out in every way to our brothers and sisters in the Houston area. But those recent disasters have made us even more determined to respond with support in very tangible ways.
We know how much it meant to us for individuals, churches, and annual conferences to come to our aid. Now we have the opportunity to stand side by side as United Methodists in ministry to all those in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey.
I would like to encourage the local churches of South Georgia to set Sunday, September 10 as a day to receive a special offering for disaster relief in Texas and to involve the congregation in making cleaning and/or hygiene kits for use in the long weeks and months of recovery.
Thank you, South Georgia United Methodists, for the ways in which you continue to be Alive Together in Christ.
Bishop, South Georgia Conference
I like words. I like to play with them even though I’m not a big fan of puzzles or games with words. Words are powerful. The adage we teach our children suggests objects hurt us more, but words inflict pain where medicine cannot reach. Hearts are bruised and broken by words.
Taken out of context words can confuse and frustrate. Aimed correctly, they will shatter mythologies we hold dear. With a certain spin, with only half truths, words turn people against each other.
Words also heal. They can be a salve to our hearts. To hear words of acceptance, of respect, of being valued bring waves of encouragement.