By Johnathon Goodenow
PEORIA – Leave it to an amaryllis given as a Christmas gift to provide a parable for the Our Conference, Our Kids campaign.
Speaking at Friday’s Morning Manna, Rev. Amanda Richards drew parallels between the flower and the $2.5 million campaign to fund the spiritual life programs at five conference health and welfare agencies – The Baby Fold, Chaddock, Cunningham Children’s Home, Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House and Spero Family Services.
Utilizing Matthew 19:13-15 as a text, Richards told a story about an amaryllis flower that was given to her this past Christmas. She was given this flower with all of the materials required to grow, but she decided that she was too busy to take care of it. She set on top of a bookshelf and forgot about. Eventually April came. She looked up and saw that the flower was actually growing on its own, without any help from her in the form of water or sunlight. Her husband got it down and positioned it by the window, and she turned the plant toward the light. They watered it periodically and it thrived.
The children from Matthew could reach heaven without Jesus’ help, but he chose to let them come to him anyways. He didn’t just let them live their lives; he removed obstacles in order to allow them to come to him more easily. In the same way, Richards’s flower could grow without her help, but in order to thrive and reach its fullest potential all she had to do was put forth a little bit of effort. The programs supported by OCOK will provide love and service without the support of the IGRC, but removing obstacles by giving our time and money will help these programs to reach their fullest potential.
Richards gave a brief testimony from each of the ministries supported by OCOK.
Cunningham Children’s Home enabled the spiritual growth of one young girl whose baby cousin had died by falling out of a window. She blamed herself and God for this death a long time growing up, but after connecting with the story of Noah, she wrote this:
“Many of us back off from God because of the bad things that have happened. Even when something bad was going to happen, Noah obeyed God and stuck with the project. The only project we have that is like Noah’s is our life. This is the challenge Noah’s life gives us. We should live our entire life depending on God’s help. God doesn’t always save us from trouble, but cares for us in spite of trouble.”
A volunteer from The Baby Fold witnessed a great moment of healing while helping one young woman. She received a phone call from her mother one day while the volunteer was visiting, so the volunteer went to the other room to talk with the woman’s son until they had finished. When the call was over, the volunteer saw that the woman was crying. When they came back to talk to her, the volunteer learned that she was crying because her mother told her that she was proud of her for the first time. Furthermore, she was told that she was a better mother than her mother had ever been to her.
An offering for OCOK collected $96,735, pushing the overall campaign’s total to $904,954.
Visit www.embraceocok.org to learn more about these programs or make an online donation. You can also donate by mailing a check to P.O. Box 19207, Springfield, IL 62794-9207. Make the check out to “IGRC” and put “Advance #6960” on the memo line. Persons may also text OCOK to 91999 to make a credit card donation.