Below is a section from my book, A Day of Hope. You can read introduction here.
What's the true meaning of A Day of Hope?
The purpose of A Day of Hope is very simple: to give hope and encouragement to families in need for Thanksgiving.
You might think that the purpose is to give people food for Thanksgiving, but it’s not. It is actually to serve them a fabulous meal that they’ll remember for a lifetime. It’s to give them a little bit of hope by knowing there are people out there who care for them and who want them to do well. It’s to give them hope because someone they don’t even know took the time, effort, and resources to bring them a box of food and a turkey.
A Day of Hope helps people to realize that there are those out there who care for them and want what’s best for them. And even though they don’t know these people, they know that they care. They know that some crazy strangers volunteered on a Sunday afternoon or on a Thanksgiving morning to come out to their home and deliver them a box of food and a turkey for Thanksgiving.
Giving someone a box of food does so much more than just simply help one single family. Giving a box of food leaves a legacy because of the good works that you’ve done. It leaves a legacy because of the difference in their lives that you’ve made. It leaves a legacy because you’re doing something that they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives. It leaves a legacy because you’re doing what no one else has ever done for them before. It leaves a legacy because it says that you care and want to help.
It’s kind of like the movies when a guy saves his buddy’s life and his buddy says, “You’ve saved my life. I’m now indebited to you forever.” That’s the legacy that you leave behind to the people you serve and help. It’s not that they feel obligated to pay you back or give you something in return, but because of the simple fact that you did so much to try and serve them, they will always remember what you did. They will be indebted to you for a long time.
Not only do you leave a legacy to the people you serve, but you leave a legacy to the entire community which you serve. You make a difference in the lives of individual families, and that amounts in making a difference in the lives of a community as a whole. Joel Osteen, Pastor of one of the largest churches in America, Lakewood Church, states, “We effect generations to come with decisions that we make today.” Making a decision to do A Day of Hope and serve people will affect others for a long time.
It’s worth pondering the question: where do you leave a legacy when you do A Day of Hope? Here are all the areas I feel you leave a legacy:
- In the lives of families
- In the community you serve
- In the people who volunteer with you
- In the donors who donate their hard earned money
- In the people who observed the work that you did, even though they didn’t participate with time or money
- In the people who realized you are doing the work in Christ’s name and saw you as being a good Christian who practices your faith. (For the Bible scholars reading this, the apostle James would be proud of you!)
A Day of Hope started as something that was nice to do as a way to help a few families. That first Thanksgiving, we fed 48 families with a box of food, even though our goal was to feed 30 families. After that first year I was addicted to the feelings of satisfaction and joy of making a difference in the lives of others. You get a special feeling when you know you’ve given your best effort to help make someone else’s life better.
I began to think about how I could feed more people. I wondered how we could raise more money, recruit more volunteers, collect more donated food, and in turn, feed more families who were in need for Thanksgiving. It was through this process I realized my life purpose is to serve people.
The second year of A Day of Hope, we fed 211 families. It was amazing! The most amazing part is that our goal was to only feed 150 families, and we far exceeded that goal. After a little success I started to realize I was good at this “serving people” stuff. I was learning that I had gifts of leadership and fundraising and A Day of Hope started to feel that it was an obligation to serve our community. I felt that God had put certain traits and qualities in me for a reason, and it was my obligation to use those to serve others the best I could.
I hope you get excited and feel passionate as a result of reading this book. If you don’t get excited about hearing and learning how we’ve served people in need, then doing A Day of Hope probably isn’t the best thing for you. Reading about this, you should be excited, passionate, and jazzed up, ready to do some great work in your community. To serve and help people you have to be passionate with a heart for helping hurting people who are in need.
You will notice throughout this book my excitement and passion for doing A Day of Hope is what led me through a lot of tough times. There have been many times when doing A Day of Hope has been tough, hard, and I’ve wanted to quit. But my reasons for doing A Day of Hope have always been the same: to use my gifts and talents to help people in need.
There is one good question to ask yourself when starting A Day of Hope:
Do I sincerely have a heart to serve people?
Well, do you? Maybe you do and have tangible experiences you can point to. Maybe you think you do but still want to give this “serving people” thing a try.
The answer to this question for me was, “Yes.” If you’re not sure exactly if your answer to the question is a yes or no, the best way to find out is to start doing A Day of Hope, and as you go through the process, you’ll discover if you have a heart to help and serve people. As you embark on your journey to do A Day of Hope work, does it jazz you up? Does it excite you? Does it energize you? If it does, then you know you’re made to serve people. You know that you were made with a caring heart to help people in need.
If I may share my perspective, I believe that every person has a heart to serve people in need at some level. To every person I have two questions:
- How much do you want to really serve people? (How often do you want to serve people? How large a part of your life do you want serving people to be?)
- How do you want to serve people? (What’s the main way that you want to serve people? What are your gifts and talents and how will those determine how you serve people?)
Everywhere I look, there are hurting people in my community, my country, and the world. I’m sure you see it too. I’m sure you see hurting people in your neighborhood, at work, in your city, in your state, in our country, and in the world. They all have different things they are hurting about and over.
Part of A Day of Hope’s mission is to ease some of that pain by simply giving them what they need in a way that doesn’t expect anything in return. It’s a way we serve them from the love within our hearts. We’re not expecting anything of them, we’re not asking them to do anything. We’re simply going to their home and providing a Thanksgiving meal for them. No strings attached.