NPC had their 2nd Saturday program this past weekend. 2nd Saturday is a facet of NPC's 'Impact' strategic outreach program that addresses four specific problems: disease, poverty, illiteracy & spiritual emptiness. Each month (on the 2nd Saturday.....get it?) NPC does a large mission project focusing on some, or all, of those four problems. I say each month...but that's not entirely accurate, sometimes instead of a 2nd Saturday event there is a push for funds to go to a local social justice organization....so it depends on who is being partnered with that month.
This month, NPC's 2nd Saturday was a "back to school" event on the church grounds. There were 500-ish pre-registered kids who were able to come get free shoes, underwear, socks & a toy through a marketplace-ish configuration inside the building.
Outside was where it got crazy. We had a large amount of inflatable carnival style rides/games set up in the parking lot. Along with serving free drinks, cookies, chips & hamburgers/hotdogs that were being cooked all morning (this was from 9a-noon). There were also stations set up where people could pick up free bags of groceries, free haircuts, dental care, medical care...and ride a pony. Or so I hear, I couldn't see to the end of the lot where I was told there were ponies.
We advertised on the radio for the event that Saturday morning, to get people to come out even if they weren't "registered" and that there would be no catch, no strings attached.
Including the 500-ish pre-registered kids, we had around 2000 (read: two-thousand) people show up for this event. Plus the 200 or so (it seemed) volunteers staffing it. I'm just pulling these numbers out of the air, from observation and from what i've heard from people who are more well informed than I.
Basically, it was slammed.
All morning, there was a line wrapped around the parking lot to get into the building to go through the marketplace. There were crowds of hundreds all day around the food area (I was one of the 4 grill masters). There had to be additional stations set up as the morning progressed to handle the traffic flow of people through the existing ones.
We had so many people show up, that we actually ran out of drinks. It was after 12, and we had already ransacked the building to look for extra water or soda that we may have missed, but we ran out.
The sort of turnout/response that we received on Saturday serves at least to me as an incredible testament that we are doing the right thing. That we are filling a very obvious and important need in the community.
Do I think we're doing all we can? No.
Do I think that what we're doing is enough? No.
But I think it's a good start.
And I think those of us who were involved need to recognize the small bit of good that it does and use that feeling of faithful accomplishment to spur us on to doing more.
For those of us who were not involved, we shouldn't feel unnecessary guilt or regret about it. But know that there are many more opportunities to participate, and many more needs that must be filled.