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Charity Begins at Home

Some of us have been passing the time by watching the NBA playoffs.  How fun to have our guys in the mix this year!  First, we were treated to a great series between the 76ers and the Toronto Raptors.  I’m not sure Toronto would call it a great series since we had a near sweep of games, only losing one to the Raptor challenge.  My favorite player is Tyrese Maxie- he always has a smile on his face and runs around the court like a child on Christmas morning.  His energy is contagious. In that first round, our guys were working as a team, shooting 3’s consistently, and giving all of us hope that maybe they could make a run at a title.  But then Joel Embid got injured, and the team struggled to find their rhythm against the Miami Heat.  Jimmy Butler, forward for the Heat, had a score to settle with the 76ers for choosing Tobias Harris over him.  Each game he made Philadelphia fans wish we had kept him.  Drama… drama… drama… And in the end, the end had come, leaving fans and players alike pointing fingers of blame.

While Philadelphia basketball has been caught up on a whirlwind of drama over the last few years, another drama has been playing out quietly in Phoenix.  In 2020, when the NBA decided to play in the Orlando Bubble, Bismack Biyombi, the backup center for the Phoenix Suns, decided to go home to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to care for his father.  When his father developed complications due to COVID, Biyombi airlifted his father to Turkey so that he could receive first world medical care.  When his father died from the complications, Biyombi decided to sit out the 2021 season to help care for others in his struggling country.  He realized that most of the people in the Congo do not have the alternatives that he could offer his father.  In the Congo, there is only 1 doctor for every 10,000 people, and most Congolese have never seen the inside of a hospital or modern medical office. Over the first two years of the pandemic, Biyombi poured over a million dollars into the healthcare system of his country to train doctors and buy needed equipment and supplies.

Most people thought that Biyombi had retired from the game, but in 2022 he came back to Phoenix to play for a cause.  Instead of accepting a paycheck from the Suns, he asked that his full salary be donated to fund the building of a modern hospital in his home city.  Some people say: “charity begins at home.”  For Biyombi, his definition of “home” includes an entire country of 90 million people.  What an inspiring example of selfless generosity.

My next-door neighbor, Joe Brereton, is the principal of Barclay Elementary School in Warrington.  When he moved to Barclay, Joe realized that not only were his students hungry, but that their families were hungry… that every day, putting healthy food on the table was a struggle. They call it “food insecurity,” an insecurity that impacts not only the physical but also the emotional health of a family.  Joe quickly defined “home” as the community of Warrington and Barclay Farmer’s Market was born.  Today that “home” stretches beyond the lines of Warrington, offering life sustaining food every week for 175 families, no questions asked.

Lenape Valley, over the past two years, I have watched your definition of “home” stretch to include school children in Camden and hungry families in Warrington, women in need of shelter in Souderton and refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.  Again and again, you have been willing to embrace a broad, grace-filled concern for our neighbors near and far.  Over this past week, our family has been blessed by your gracious care as we have been supported with cards and emails, and most importantly your prayer cover.  Thank you for welcoming us into your ever-expanding “home.”

Today, I want to challenge you to stretch even further… We are beginning to prepare for our fall mission effort that we call the Church Has Left the Building.  As you know, each fall we mobilize our whole faith community out in mission, feeding the hungry, doing yard work, singing at nursing homes, and building safe havens for God’s children.  We are looking for new opportunities to serve… new ways to stretch our “home” out into the community.  Do you have an idea?  Have you seen a need?  How can we stretch our “home” in new ways this fall?  Pray about this challenge.  Let God open your eyes to see the need.  Let God inspire you with ideas to meet that need.  I am excited to see how our Lenape Valley “home” will grow in 2022.

With you on the mission field,  
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