December 1, 2023
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The youngest of our three daughters is a sophomore at Clemson. Ten years ago, she was a fifth-grader participating in the Sprouts Ministry program at Buncombe Street.
Sprouts is an amazing Buncombe Street UMC ministry for 4th and 5th graders. The ministry helps students to learn what it means to be a true disciple of Christ by going out into the community and helping those in need, just as Jesus did.
I had the privilege to serve as a “Sprout Leader” alongside two terrific ladies, Dottie Hollis and Karen Ward. I fondly remember many of the “community trips,” but one trip, in particular, reflected the hope and wonder of Christmas.
For several weeks prior to Christmas, Sprouts collected socks from neighbors and Sunday school classes. At the completion of the “Sock Drive,” the Sprouts gathered at the church, early one chilly Sunday evening for a visit to Triune Mercy Center. Prior to making the short bus trip over to Triune, each Sprout selected a single pair of socks from a large box. Then Reverend Gayle instructed the Sprouts to “visually” select someone at Triune, by picturing them in their minds. She encouraged the Sprouts to pray for the person they had selected, pray over the socks, and ask God to warm the homeless during Christmas and throughout the winter. She shared that many people the Sprouts would visit with at Triune were homeless and Triune was a place where the homeless were welcomed. Following prayer, each Sprout was instructed to present the socks to the person they had visually selected and for whom they had prayed.
The children were either thinking about what Reverend Gayle had shared with them, or maybe they were just nervous, because the bus ride to Triune was unusually quiet. The bus pulled up to the church. We parked, and each Sprout filed off the bus, socks in hand. They entered the sanctuary and we took our place filling two long pews. I watched the children as they looked around the sanctuary, searching for someone who might need a warm pair of socks, then closing their eyes, lowering their heads and folding their hands over the socks. After a few quiet moments, Reverend Gayle, nodded her head, signaling the time for each Sprout to present their gifts. As the Sprouts moved about, the room seemed to light up with smiles, and hugs and laughter, as the gifts were shared with new friends.
Who would have ever thought that a simple pair of socks, given to someone “in need,” with nothing expected in return, could do so much good, for so many… not just the recipients, but the givers, as well?
As we begin the new year, the Sprout’s sock ministry reminds us all to be good stewards of our time and treasure. Giving to God is giving to His kingdom. Our responsibility is to give to God in response to His loving generosity. The church is a vehicle for accomplishing the work of God. It is we, the Body of Christ, who accomplish His work through our giving. We give through the church, not to the church. We are called to use all that God has given us in service to others… even if it’s just a pair of socks.