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Back to School Supplies

August 7, 2009

BtSMM Outside line

I have had several people ask me about our big Back to School Medical Mission day. I thought I would take some time to explain what we do in one place and at one time that may answer all of the questions I have had.

First, people ask about the number.

People see that we helped 650 students with supplies and they find out that we gave away 600 backpacks for children in and around Owasso and they want to know how we did that. Well we have been doing it nine years. We didn’t start with that number, we have worked up to that number.

In fact this is only our third year giving backpacks. That number went from 300 to 500 to 600 this year. Why did we add backpacks three years ago? Well our youth minister left for a job in Ohio. One less staff member can free up some funds. Now we rehired that same staff member after a two year absence and I can say that we can both do 600 backpacks and pay his salary, but we only really got started because his departure gave us some room to do more.

Second, about that number

I have had several people say we do something for around 40 or 50 kids. Here is the thing about numbers, they don’t BtSMM Sanctuarynecessarily mean anything. You need to decide why you are giving out school supplies before you shoot for a 600 backpack day.

I have a cousin in Kingman, Kansas whose church feeds around 40 kids on Wednesday nights. They see a need with those kids for school supplies. I think 40 is a great number for them. They have a relationship and they are working with the families on a weekly basis. For that church 40 is a good number.

So I would say figure out what God is calling you to do. Maybe there is an apartment complex around your church that you want to do outreach at or the neighborhood that surrounds your facility. Maybe you want to target a local school that you know is in need.

We do what we do for a few specific reasons. One, we get to pray with almost 600 people in one day. Let me tell you, that is amazing. One particular young lady had never been prayed for before. Think about that. We are able to discuss people’s relationship with God very openly. We are able to talk to a mom whose marriage is in trouble, to get her number and to follow up. You don’t get that chance every day. You are able to help a family after dad has lost his job or with a mom who is out of work. That isn’t as easy to do without 600 backpacks.

For us it is our way of walking by faith as James instructs in James 2:14-17.

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Sure it isn’t daily food but it is a physical need. In some cased giving school supplies insures that they will have the resources for daily food.

But guess what, if you help 40 you have honored what the Bible says. I’m not saying aim low I’m simply saying ask God. We do it for a reason and I think it is a good one, it just may not be what you are called to do. Make a plan and carry it out, God is the one who gives the increase.

Third, what about the cost of that number.

Here is where it gets tricky. People often times ask, “How can you afford to do that.” You see we give to the Oklahoma Dental Foundation to cover their costs. We give to the Good Samaritan Health Services to cover their costs and we typically purchase all of the supplies ourselves. I say typically because this year a new Neighborhood Market by Wal-Mart opened and we received $2000 from them. This allowed us to do more supplies but the backpacks were already purchased.

BtSMM Haircut 2009 013How do we do it, well we purpose to do it. We set aside a percentage of our weekly offering to cover all of these expenses and much more. (You might do a little research into what the early church took an offering for as recorded in the New Testament.) We budget with it in mind. Now this may mean that I’m not going to be able to re-tile our entry ways and if you saw them you would know they need it. It may mean we don’t have new carpet in the sanctuary and if you saw the stains you would understand. (Something about turning it into a barbershop/medical clinic/school supplies warehouse will do that.)

If you are a 501c3 you can seek money from Wal-Mart. You can also look for area donations and depending on whether or not anyone else is doing it I’m sure you can find support. Check on local foundations that specialize in helping children. You can partner with a local bank or credit union to gather supplies. (Just know that when you start taking money from non-religious sources they may make stipulations on sharing Jesus.) Before Wal-Mart went to the 501c3 policy we did receive support but that went away around three years ago. So when we first got going it was great help.

Also remember that I said we really jumped when we only had one on staff. That to me is very important because as I also said, he is back. We are doing well and while we may not get the entry way remodeled this year we did get both bathrooms done and last year we stained the cement in the fellowship hall. It looks really nice.


BtSMM Medical TruckYou just have to think that way. I’m guessing this might be hard for a church used to thinking differently. This is just a part of who we are and people are accustomed to how we work. We may not rent an inflatable gym for our upcoming anniversary but everyone knows why. That money went for school supplies.

Dr. Chris Thurman in his book The Lies We Believe says that most people don’t understand that saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. Why can we do what we do? We have learned to say no to some things so that when back to school time rolls around we can say yes to others.

If you have further questions feel free to add them on the comment section.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Wendy Simmons permalink
    August 22, 2009 10:53 pm

    That’s very nice! I am sorry I missed it. We will be returning to New Heights tomorrow. I apologize for being absent for so long. As you know, we have had difficult times in my family, and though some of them are behind us now, there is more to come. I look foward to hearing your thought-provoking messages once again.

  2. August 23, 2009 12:27 am

    Wendy it is good to hear from you. I was thinking about that story message series and that made me think about your interest. I understand it has been hard. Look forward to reconnecting.

  3. Wendy Simmons permalink
    August 23, 2009 9:57 pm

    Thanks, Darin. I am still interested in helping out with the message series. Let me know what I need to do to get started on it.

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