I first heard about it yesterday at pastoral staff meeting. Then a friend emailed me with more details. Today I checked it out for myself. What I saw was a miracle in the making.
A little over a year ago Pam Steger, a young mother in our congregation, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. An initial round of radiation pushed the cancer into remission and Pam seemed to be doing great. A few months ago, the cancer returned with a vengeance. At this moment, the ultimate outcome of any further treatment is in doubt. Pam and her husband Mike fully understand the situation and have responded with courageous faith in God. The time I spoke with Pam, she was in the hospital for several days of treatment. While we were there, we watched as she passionately witnessed to a very close friend and urged her to trust Christ. "I want you to be in heaven with me," she said.
Mike and Pam and their two young children live in a typical urban apartment building. It was built with a tiny backyard area that is shoehorned between two other building. Every apartment had a landing alongside a wooden stairway that descends to a concrete sidewalk that leads to the adjoining alley. The backyard was basically a mud hole. No grass, no bushes, no flowers, nowhere safe for the children to play. Just a dirt enclosure surrounded by buildings and a chain link fence. Ugly and uninviting.
A group from our church decided to do something about that backyard as a gift to Mike and Pam and their children. With the help of family members, they arranged an overnight trip to Michigan where they stayed at Embassy Suites. Early this morning, a team of workers descended on that barren backyard and went to work. A lawn care contractor from the church donated sod and workers to install it. Sunday School classes pitched in the money to create a beautiful little landscaped garden. Others donated money to purchase a sturdy swing set and jungle gym plus new furniture for the landing by the stairway next to Mike and Pam's apartment.
The work started at 6:30 AM today. When we arrived just before the noon, the sod was down, the garden was in, and volunteers were assembling the playground equipment. People with various tools were coming and going while we got the update on the project. Work continued through the afternoon. Mike and Pam didn't see the finished results until 5 PM. As the friend wrote in the email, "We hope that this will be a comfortable and comforting place for them in the days ahead."
I am so proud to see the Body of Christ at Calvary come together to meet the physical and spiritual needs of a dear family who is facing very uncertain days ahead. God bless every person who planned and gave and cleared and dug and planted and assembled and cleaned up. Last Sunday I told the congregation that Christ has no hands but ours to do his work in the world. Today a lot of those hands got dirty helping Mike and Pam and their children. It is truly an example of being the hands of Christ and the church in many places.
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