By Susan Grant
Bethel Next Step Coordinator
A Chattanooga native, Susan has a Master of Social Work degree and is licensed in TN and in GA. She recently retired after 25 years as a foster care worker and court liaison for Hamilton County with the TN Dept. of Children’s Services. She also has experience in education and behavioral health. She is a wife, mother and grandmother and a Bible study leader in her church.
As I went through my first season on staff here at Bethel, I was humbled by the outpouring of generosity and sincerity that was shown to our families. Our supporters are generous givers!
But what about the families who were the receivers? Even when you are very grateful for help, receiving can be a truly humbling experience. I learned this during my own time of struggle years ago.
As I prepared our families for the gifts and food that would be coming their way, I told them that this is their season to be receivers and that as they progress in their life journey, they would one day be able to reach out to others who are struggling as they are now.
The Bible tells us to “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 (NIV). God has proved this to me in a very humorous way.
Following my divorce years ago, I had reached the point where my daughter and I were living in our own place and I was working. One night, I had a knock on the door one from a representative of the Needy Child’s fund. He said that my family’s name had been turned in as needing help. I assured him that while we were not affluent, we were doing okay and had the bills paid.
Soon after, the annual food drive rolled around at my daughter’s school. Like many people, I went through the cupboard and found canned food I had purchased but no one had wanted to eat and sent in those cans to help someone else.
The days marched on and just before Thanksgiving I got a call from the school asking me to pick up a food box for our family. I explained again that I appreciated it, but it really needed to go to someone who needed it more. It turned out that the school had more boxes than needy families so, because my name was on the original list, I had a box waiting for me.
My daughter, a middle schooler, refused to go with me to get the box. Sometimes we are not good receivers. So, I went to the school and got the box and came home. As I began to assess the contents, there were a lot of items we needed. I also I discovered that some of my canned goods that I had sent in to the school had come back home!
I had to laugh. While the Bible that says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” I have concluded that this will work for canned goods as well.
Giving in Community
Our current culture is focused on the individual rather than sharing and being a community as the word of God instructs us to be. Jesus was always sharing and bringing others together making an example for us.
We are blessed that the people who support Bethel, like my daughter’s school, are willing to be a community of givers. Please know that the bread, the canned food, and the funds you cast upon our waters are greatly appreciated. And they are received with love by the families and children in crisis we serve.