What if you were the mother of twelve children and when the youngest started preschool you wondered what to do with the rest of your life? Mary Jo Copeland, a Minneapolis mother, found herself in that position and, according to Margaret Nelson and Kerry Pickett, co-authors of “Saving Body and Soul: The Mission of Mary Jo Copeland,” she told her children they’d have to help more around the house because she was going out to share the love in her family with those who didn’t have that kind of love. Little did Mary Jo, her husband, Dick, and their twelve children know how far that decision to share their love with those in need would take them.
On a frigid Minnesota winter day, a man saw Mary Jo distributing hot coffee to homeless people and donated two thousand dollars to help enlarge her work; he also became her first volunteer. At that time, Mary Jo and Dick were working out of a rented run-down storefront building but better days were ahead. Nelson and Pickett say that with each success this once reclusive homemaker grew more confident in what she believed God was calling her to do, enabling her to move the formerly small ministry to large facilities, including an apartment building that has become a transitional home to more than 500 people at a time—without any government funds.
Mary Jo Copeland’s Caring and Sharing Hands buildings at the edge of downtown Minneapolis were soon filled daily with people seeking help because of job losses, lack of affordable housing, family problems, addictions and other life destroyers. Hundreds lined up for hugs and help, receiving the benefits of a woman who became convinced she had been given a mission to reach out to hurting people in need of God’s love.
The current persistent recession has drawn the world’s attention again to the name of an organization that can always be counted on to lovingly provide both physical and spiritual needs: The Salvation Army. This helpful ministry was born in the heart of one man: William Booth. The poor and suffering people of London became such a concern to him that meeting them in all their areas of need became his mission.
When near the end of his life, William Booth was asked for the secret of his success.
He replied that when he had become burdened about the poor of London, he had surrendered his life entirely to God, seeking His help in helping them. This kind of commitment established a divine partnership that enabled Booth to accomplish things that most would have thought impossible.
My friend, John Gunn, was a successful pastor who found himself unable to ignore the needs of thousands of children in his community. This call to a special mission moved John to leave his church and start “The Power Company Kids Club,” an organization that ministers to more than two thousand children weekly, bringing them to faith, changing their lives and pointing them to churches near their homes.
You’re better qualified to meet the needs of some in your community, maybe even the world, than anyone else, so desert the sidelines and get involved. Trust God to enable you to do what needs to be done.
Don’t miss your mission.