The Gift That Keeps On Giving – The Heart of Service

“Then Peter said, silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.”  Acts 3:16

In the early days of the Jerusalem Church, Peter and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, encountered a crippled beggar. Their lack of financial resources did not diminish nor restrict their willingness to help him. Being Apostles, specially commissioned and equipped by Jesus (Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1), they had the ability to heal the man’s crippled body.  This allowed him to better provide for his own needs.

The lesson for us today is that despite our limitations in financially assisting the poor, there are still ways we can serve them. Disciples need to be willing to give God and others their best. It matters not that they think their best is not all that great. Though not always easy, it is always worthwhile to give.  As disciples of the 21st century, we cannot perform the miraculous gift of healing, but many of us are rich in time, energy, and heart – precious, personal resources. We are to give of what we have!

This year MERCY volunteers from Los Angeles, New York City, Washington DC and Portland joined forces to tackle the desperate need for blood donation. A task which may seem overwhelming given the time, resources and personal involvement required, is exactly the arena in which disciples shine!

Every 2 seconds, 1 pint of blood saves 3 lives!. Our nation has experienced a blood shortage for decades. The need for blood to care for those injured in accidents or natural disasters or those stricken with diseases and chronic illnesses, is unfortunately frequently unmet.  If people do not donate blood, the supply simply does not match the demand. Not only must blood be given in sufficient quantity, but also at regular intervals since it has a limited shelf-life.

The American Red Cross, has sought to meet this need through promoting blood donations. With less than 38% of the US population being able to donate blood, the task of keeping an adequate supply of blood on hand to meet all needs seems daunting! Many good-hearted people desire to help but are eliminated from the donation process because of health factors. Thus an even greater burden is placed on the mere 38% who can give blood. They must have a generous heart to do this on a consistent basis! Blood donations typically require only 1 pint of the body’s total 10 pints! As disciples we understand and are familiar with the practice of giving a tenth of our earnings to God (Leviticus 27:30). Our blood donation is our blood tithe.

MERCY Worldwide ( Maximizing Efforts for Relief Care and Youth worldwide) is the benevolent arm of the Church. Its volunteer base is a unique body of disciples committed to serving, without monetary compensation, to meet the needs of others.

For MERCY ambassadors of NYC, November 16th, 2013 marked their very first blood drive, done in collaboration with the American Red Cross. This was the American Red Cross’s first interaction with MERCY worldwide and given their previous extensive experiences with other organizations, they expected a maximum of 40 people to show. With that projected turn-out, they hoped to collect 25 units of blood. MERCY worldwide assured them of a turn-out of at least 80, and true to our word, just as we anticipated,, there were over 80 in attendance, donating a total of 56 units of blood!. With that much blood donated, 168 area patients could potentially be helped!

Mr. Aaron Brown, manager for Donor Services & recruitment in NYC, although stunned by the response of the disciples, happily anticipated a continuing relationship with MERCY. This was evidenced by his statement I see you have the donors. When can we schedule the next blood drive?”  When teased about the fact that he had been assured, on several occasions, that ‘the disciples will come if they say they’ll come’, he smiled and replied, I’ve just never seen this happen before.”

Another three blood drives are planned for 2014 on March 8th, July 12th, and October 18th.

Although the Blood Drive is MERCY’s most recent endeavor and for many their pioneer venture  into blood donation, MERCY has been busy with other projects throughout the year.

On December 15, 2013, for the third consecutive year, MERCY will be donating toys to the Dr. Rose B. English School (PS 327). Located in Brownsville, a less than affluent area of Brooklyn, PS 327 is surrounded by violence and poverty. MERCY will be donating toys to children from Pre-K to Kindergarten (3-5 yrs. old). For many of these children who live in nearby shelters, the toys donated by MERCYww may  very well be the only gifts they receive the entire year! What tremendous joy we can bring to these children and their families with the selfless act of giving! (Philippians 2:4)

MERCY has also participated, for the past 2 years in the Career Day at this school, and this year was no different. This was an opportunity for individuals to motivate and encourage the 7th and 8th grade students as they begin to make choices that will shape their future. This year 7 MERCY ambassadors were selected to be presenters as part of the program entitled “Foundations of Success: Blueprint for Your Future!” The following disciples attended and presented themselves in their professional capacities:  Patrique Smellie, Esq, Cheryl Harris-Chin, MD, FAAP, Anita Simmons (Office Manager), Dara Taylor (Graduate of Columbia University – Social Work), Pete Woodcheke (Culinary Arts Degree – Chef), Jonathan Pedican ( Mechanical Engineer), and Victor Rivera (Senior Probation Officer) They did an outstanding job bringing hope and inspiration to many eager students helping to convince these impressionable minds  that challenging  circumstances are mere stepping stones to success!

God gave MERCY tremendous success for our Day of Service on June 15, 2013.  MERCY volunteers again showed that with the sacrificial heart and attitude of Jesus, they can be the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Volunteers wearing their green MERCY shirts were truly “Green Lanterns” on this day. The green light shone in Brooklyn as volunteers led by Kwaku Sarkodie and Jonathan Pedican served the HELP USA New Horizons Shelter and the Isabahlia Ladies of Elegance Foundation Inc. respectively. HELP USA provides homes, jobs and services for America’s homeless and the Isabahlia Foundation focuses on strengthening and encouraging positive self-esteem in  children of the community. Volunteers spent hours cleaning up and restoring the areas surrounding the shelter and an urban farming project.

Staten Island, an area devastated by hurricane Sandy was illuminated as the “green lights” worked at helping to rebuild a home destroyed by the powerful hurricane. Under the supervision of trained and experienced home builders of the ‘Steven Siller Tunnel to Tower’ Foundation, Mike O’Donnell and his loyal Staten Island resident MERCY ambassadors, placed drywall and insulation, alleviating the burden of rebuilding a home from its rubble.

One lucky Queen’s resident, our dear sister Marilyn LaRose, saw “green” as several MERCY volunteers eager to serve one of their own, congregated at her home for a “MERCY Makeover.” Marilyn, a cancer survivor was spiritually strengthened but physically weakened from the ordeal with chemotherapy and radiation. She also fell behind in her financial obligations due to the cost of her prolonged treatment. Volunteers worked tirelessly until Marilyn’s home was transformed into a beautiful and comfortable environment all in just under 24 hours. Special thanks to Josh Koralek for his leadership in this labor of love and to Jake Studer for his home improvement skills which made this a resounding success!

On behalf of MERCYworldwide, Cheryl and I would like to thank and congratulate the MERCY volunteers who showed tremendous support for each project undertaken this year. Your hard work is making a difference in the city we live and serve. In the words of the Apostle Paul,

 “ …by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”  Acts 20:35

Dr. Kenneth Chin & Dr. Cheryl Harris-Chin
New York City Directors