[ Godsends ]
It happened a few years ago, but I remember it well. I was having a rare moment at my desk one Tuesday morning and pondering the all-too-familiar financial precariousness of the organization I was leading at the time, Crossroads Community Ministries.
Crossroads ministers to the homeless and impoverished of Atlanta, Georgia. Our focus is on providing one-on-one assistance and resources to people who are ready to break the chains of deprivation and do the hard work to become self-sufficient.
When you consider that many of our clients don’t even have ID or a physical address for mail and are often carrying physical and emotional burdens if not dealing with substance abuse, you can imagine the challenges Crossroads must meet to help them navigate the long road to wholeness.
By the grace of God and the tireless commitment of our staff and volunteers, we fulfill our mission. Every time a client beats the odds and gets back on track, we are filled with thanksgiving.
But sometimes there are those “dark nights of the soul,” when even the strongest and most faithful of us wonder how we’re going to keep going. Bills pile up. Equipment wears out. Things go wrong. Clients have setbacks. Donations drop.
So there I was at my desk that morning, having a dark moment although it was still early in the day and the week was still new.
Wearily I thought about how, for the past month, the number of newly homeless people coming to Crossroads for help – men, women, and an alarming number of very small children – had been increasing.
I thought about how donations had been going in the other direction and wondered how we would meet the elevated need, pay the gifted staff and keep the ministry going.
“God,” I prayed, “You’ve always provided for Crossroads and those we serve. I don’t know how you’re going to do it this time, but we need you to come through for us again – and fast – with some money to pay these many bills. Amen.”
I put our future in God’s hands and began going through the stack of mail on my desk. As I opened a handwritten envelope, out fell a check and a note. The check was for an amount well over $10,000! The note said:
“I wish I could take all the credit for this donation, but most of it is from my grandmother’s estate. ...I already had a lot of advantages – like education and good health – that a lot of people you see don’t have. As God continues to bless me, I will continue to pass those blessings along because of the people that have helped me.”
To this day, that is the largest single donation Crossroads has ever received from an individual.
“Thank you, Father!” I prayed, relieved, happy, grateful. Suddenly those bills in the stack of mail did not seem so ominous.
But that’s not all of God’s good gifts to us that day. In another envelope was a second check! This one too was accompanied by a note. It read:
“You fed me many, many, many days. Now I am working and I wanted to sow a seed for your ministry. May God continue to bless you.”
The check was from a day-labor company, endorsed over to Crossroads. It was a former client’s entire paycheck for a week!
Here were two people in very different circumstances who both acknowledged what so many of us forget to recognize: that we’ve all walked through doors that were opened by others, that there but for the grace of God go we, and that messages of encouragement from God come in unexpected ways.
The money was a physical lifesaver – it got us through a bad time. But the message embedded in those gifts was much more powerful than another few weeks' operating expenses. It was a message I needed to hear both in my capacity at Crossroads and as a person on a lifelong journey of faith.
It was, simply, to trust in God. To trust that those with the means to help will be at your side when you need them, but also to trust your heart and your mission – which for us is to remember the words of Jesus Christ:
'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'
- Matthew 25:40
To learn more about Atlanta's Crossroads Community Ministries or make a donation, go to: