Every year, Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana shuts its doors, cancels its services and sends its congregation out to do service projects all over the city.  This year, World Next Door sent a team of volunteer journalists from Grace’s congregation to tell some of the stories from the weekend.

This is one of those stories.

To read all of the Weekend of Service articles from 2011, click here.

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By Gwen Jackson

“This didn’t just happen by chance…” These were the words of the woman with whom I’d just spoken. I spent the day at IPS school #58 Fall Carnival.

IPS Building on a sunny day.

When I arrived on Saturday at 10 AM,  preparations were being made for the day – volunteers waiting for pizza delivery, some setting up games, others raking leaves or cleaning classes. A year ago, Grace volunteers had visited this school to paint and clean. The halls are bright, cheerful and inviting.

Freshly painted beautiful halls.

The parking lot beside the school was being set up with carnival games – corn hole, bowling, face painting, horse rides, bounce house, balloon animals and more. It was a glorious day outside.

I spent most of the day mingling, snapping pictures and finding families of students. I wasn’t very successful. Most visitors were drive-bys who had seen the event from their cars. I was a little disappointed and decided to pitch the notebook and camera and blend in.

I sat to play Bingo with a young mother and her 10 year old son.  Between calls, she spoke of how her son had been bullied at this school and how hard it was for her to return here. Her son had wanted to see his friends. As a teacher, I could relate to the child-hood story and frustrations. It was apparent that she just wanted a listening ear. God had put me there, I’m sure.

All smiles here!

As the carnival was winding down, I felt a little sad that God hadn’t worked through me today. On my way to my car, two little boys were sitting on the curb, petting tiny kittens. I sat to join them in the cuddling. The boy’s grandmother, Bonnie, smiled and said what a wonderful diversion this day had been after a truly terrible week. I asked her if it was something she wanted to talk about.

She began to tell me what she’d been through – her husband had a stroke, her mother was dying of cancer and her 23 year old daughter had been to court in a spousal abuse case. WOW! We talked for a very long time – most of the families and volunteers had gone.

Bonnie’s daughter, Katherine, joined us to take the kittens back to their owners. Bonnie told me that Katherine was struggling to find her path in life and that Kat’s passion was the arts. My heart did a flip-flop as I am an art teacher. Kat told me that she longed to do something creative with her life and be a good role model to her boys. I searched my brain for a way to help. I shared with her that I will be doing an outdoor mosaic in February as an all school project would love some assistance. She immediately asked for a piece of paper and wrote,

Clowning around

“Available to volunteer in your class for projects or daily help! Have great passion for kids and art! This may be very beneficial and may be a stepping stone to my future!”

I don’t know which of us three women smiled wider! I told them that I was there with my church, sharing God’s grace and that I was thrilled to be of help. We talked about how getting her boys into a great church would be a stepping stone into their future as well.

We traded emails and phone numbers and promised to keep in touch. As we hugged and tearfully parted, Bonnie softly said,

“This didn’t just happen by chance.”

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About the Author: Every year, Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana shuts its doors, cancels its services and sends its congregation out to do service projects all over the city. This team of volunteer journalists from Grace’s congregation told some of the stories from the weekend.

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Comments

  1. Barry Rodriguez said... 

    Reply

    November 14th, 2011 at 3:28 pm  

    What a cool connection! I love it how people are brought together so providentially. I hope you are able to follow up with them on this. That would be such a fantastic way to share your love with that family. Nice work, Gwen!

  2. Jim.M said... 

    Reply

    November 16th, 2011 at 11:05 pm  

    “I was a little disappointed and decided to pitch the notebook and camera and blend in.”

    “I could relate to the child-hood story…”

    “It was apparent that she just wanted a listening ear. God had put me there, I’m sure.”

    “This didn’t just happen by chance.”

    Sometimes we simply need to show up, surrender, and stop trying so hard…I love how this started as a you in search of a “story”, and in the end it’s God’s story in search of you.

    Thanks Gwen.

  3. Amber said... 

    Reply

    November 17th, 2011 at 7:34 am  

    Wow!!! Powerful way to show the Love of Jesus to those who are hurting and in need! Great ministry :0

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