Weekly Mission Spotlight: Making Connections

Friendship Fund – Making Connections

By Kathy Johnson

In his 1962 address in King Chapel at Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “…I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.

On Tuesday of last week, I received a phone call from Herman. Herman is a person of color who I met through the Friendship Fund last October when he was seeking some assistance with his rent. Herman is not quite at retirement age and lives alone. He works 35-40 hours a week, but like a lot of people I see, he’s under-employed and doesn’t quite make enough to pay all of his bills. He spends 65% of his income on rent. The Friendship Fund helped Herman with his rent.

Herman is also a life-long North Carolinian and loves fishing and a good game of baseball. He was once married, but a bitter divorce has left him weary of new relationships. He ties a mean bow tie and has been known to cut a rug in his younger days. Nat King Cole, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke are his favorite singers. He went to church with his grandmother as a young boy.

I know these things because, Herman and I did more than just discuss his rent, his income and his spending habits. We sat down and for 45 minutes had a real conversation about life, both struggles and joys. We communicated with each other and we prayed together.

Back to last Tuesday’s phone call. Herman called and said, “Miss Kathy, this is Herman. I’m on my way to work and I don’t need any help. I know things are crazy downtown and I wanted to check in on you and the church”. We chatted for a little while longer and then I hung up the phone and wept. I wept because Herman, who was experiencing his own grief and pain over the loss of George Floyd and the events of the weekend, took the time to call and check on me and the church. What a beautiful gift.

In the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 12:30-31, Jesus commands “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

The beauty of the Friendship Fund is that we can do so much more than just help people financially. On behalf of FPC, my volunteers and I have the wonderful opportunity to get to know people, communicate with people, pray with people, and make meaningful connections. Discipleship is about loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. I am so grateful for these connections and the opportunity as a disciple of Christ, to help dispel some of the hate and fear.