GIVE! The Gift of Community – Guest Post by Grant Jenkins
Today’s GIVE! story is from my friend Grant. I’ve known Grant for over 10 years. We worked together in our music business days and now I have the privilege of working with him at Cross Point. I love Grant’s passion and energy for changing lives – it’s contagious! His story today about the gift of community is so, so powerful and something that each one of us can give to others if we were only attentive enough to the need.
It was Sunday, August 29, 2010. I had 37 cents in my bank account and had just used my rent money to make an 11th hour car payment to, for the third time this year, prevent the repossession of my car.
I was embroiled in a genuinely challenging situation, one that was escalating, and I had no idea how it was going to play out.
Let me rewind and give some context for my story.
In January of this year, after coming face to face with the condition of my heart, I chose to walk away from the career that I had clung to so tightly as my source of identity and worth. It was during this same time I came to Cross Point Church and on Sunday, January 17 I first met Wes Howard and walked downstairs to the church gym to check out the “Young Professionals” community group, which Wes led. As relational as I am by nature, I was honestly quite reluctant to go see what this group was about, partly because at that very moment in my life I was unraveling and didn’t feel like a “professional” anything, except perhaps a professional failure.
I will never forget walking into the gym that first night, completely clueless as to what to expect, and finding myself in the midst of 60 people who were all there looking for the same thing: community. Turns out, the group had grown from about 15 people to 60… THAT DAY.
Many significant things would occur over the course of the following months.
First, Wes and I became close friends and I was amazed to discover how much our stories were similar. Wes believed in me, encouraged me and invested his time and story into mine.
Second, I went from months of being unemployed and uncertain to getting a job at Starbucks which, looking back, wasn’t about coffee at all. Rather it was an operating room where God would deconstruct and reshape my heart. This season also brought with it a variety of financial challenges as I struggled to find the ends, let alone make them meet.
Third, as the months went on and the “young professionals” group grew larger, I began leading one of the small groups within the large group, as well as to help Wes with many of the behind the scenes administrative tasks involved in leading a group of over 120 people. Wes and I spent a lot of time every week, planning, praying, dreaming and creating together, and investing in this amazing group of people that we would officially rename as “STRETCH” in August 2010.
Which brings us to the August 29 scenario that I began with.
The Stretch group was back at the Cross Point gym, following a massive city-wide scavenger hunt we had put together for the group. We were all enjoying each other’s company when Wes took the microphone and began to speak.
He spoke about how his life had been impacted by the power of community and shared the part of his story where he was unable to pay his rent, and his community group quietly took up money for him, which ended up being the exact amount he needed for his rent.
He then called me up to the stage, shared how much he and the group loved me and presented me with an envelope of money they had collected for me.
I was in complete shock.
The amount of money was significant, and I was speechless. But more than the much-needed monetary gift I received, or the amount, I realized that I had been given something much more impactful and intangible than an envelope full of money…
I had been given the gift of community.
As I drove home that night, my heart was overflowing knowing that they valued me enough to give the way they gave to me that night. I later realized that it was almost a year ago to the day that Wes’ group had done the same for him. Now, a year later, he invited the group to make a similar investment, knowing first-hand the impact it would have.
I will never forget the investment Wes Howard and the Cross Point Stretch group have made into my life, and not just with their dollars… but with their heart.
How has your life been impacted by the gift of community?