Every so often Sandy calls me to give me an update of how things are going and of her needs. There are always needs when your organization depends totally on the generosity of others to feed and house the 20-plus women, and their children, who are currently living at Bethany Place - women who usually have no other place to go and would be out on the streets except for Bethany Place. And the waiting list to get into Bethany Place is long.
Whenever I visit Bethany Place, or talk to Sandy on the phone, I am reminded of a scripture that reads "when ye are in the service of your fellow man ye are in the service of your God." Bethany Place has been operating for 20-plus years by the grace of God and the generosity of the people of Cherokee County. I have seen the miracles that have taken place at Bethany Place, the miracles that changed the lives of literally hundreds of women who had made wrong choices in their early lives, women who had never been taught "God's Ways" for living, and were paying a heavy price for the mistakes they had made. Then Bethany Place took them in and under the tender and loving care of Sandy and her staff were taught the principles for living the "right life" and then leave able to care for themselves. And they were taught how to take responsibility for their own lives - living those principles of right living they learned at Bethany Place.
What a contrast there is between what is happening at Bethany Place and how the government welfare system operates today, especially under the "hand out:" policies President Johnson's Great Society Plan instituted in 1969. At Bethany Place the residents are given a "hand up" and taught who they are, children of God, where they came from and why they are in mortality. They are also taught self-respect, as a child of God, and they are taught how to take responsibility for their actions.
These teachings are essential and are what Moses was commanded to teach his followers after he "rescued them" from the shackles of bondage in ancient times. Sandy and her program are in a way like Moses, they have "rescued" these women, and their children, from the self-imposed bondage these women have shackled themselves with by breaking the "Laws of Nature," one of Jefferson's two cornerstones of liberty he placed in the Declaration of Independence. But Sandy realizes that before a new resident will be receptive to those principles they must have the essentials of life; food, shelter and clothing. They get this at Bethany Place, thanks to the community's generosity.
Self-indulgence, selfishness, and ignorance of life's realities destroy people and nations. And these things are in the process of destroying families and our nation.
With so much need for help today following the humongous earthquakes in Haiti and Chili it is often difficult to choose where our donations are needed most. For me this has never been a problem. Our church operates a church assistance program that is financed by a unique system that could be used by many here in Cherokee County who are looking for a way to help Bethany Place, without costing them anything, and yet feeling good about what they are doing.
Bible scholars will remember the Lord urged his people to "fast"often. Church leaders encourage members to fast for two meals on the first Sunday of each month and to donate the money saved to the church "fast offering"fund. This is an "offering," not a tithing donation. With those "fast offering" funds, the church has established its world wide assistance program, with supplies ready to meet the immediate needs in emergencies such as devastating quakes. Often the church works through the Red Cross, Catholic Relief, or the Islamic Red Crescent to get needed supplies to those in immediate need, regardless of cultures.
This program works well. For years I was in leadership positions that helped our local people in need. I have seen how God's Ways are for all people, in all communities, of all faiths, or no faith. Truly, when "ye are in the service of your fellow man, ye are in the service of your God." Bethany Place is in need of help today, as they are every day and would appreciate all the help they do receive. Maybe your "fast offerings" would help them, and you, by knowing you would be in the service of your fellow man.
Donald Conkey, a retired agricultural economist, lives in Woodstock.