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Valentine’s Day with Westchester Korean SDA Church

On Saturday February 11, 2017, Matthew Kohl, Christian Chung, and I had the pleasure of organizing and leading the Love Letter Outreach project for the Westchester Korean Seventh-Day Adventist Church. For this project we passed out 500 roses and Love Letters to our community for free.  The purpose for this project was to be God’s hands and His feet; to communicate to each person we encountered that they are loved and that their life has profound significance. The Love Letter is essentially the Gospel of God’s love for humanity simply packaged and ready to share with anyone. The Love Letter reads:

Hey Fellow Human,
Of course, you don’t know me, and it’s a little weird getting a letter from some random person. But life is weird, so roll with it because whoever I am I have something really cool to tell you, and it’s this:
You are a one-of-a-kind- masterpiece.
Totally unique!
And this means that you can impact the world like nobody else can. Whatever pain you’ve gone through, whatever violations of your person you’ve endured, your hurts don’t define you. You are special beyond all of that, and your life has huge meaning and profound significance. There are people you can touch like nobody else can. This big ol’ broken world awaits your special way of loving others. Take a look around you, and you will see people nobody else sees. Lonely people. Wounded people. People on the edge, about to give up. There are so many violators in the world. What the world desperately needs is more lovers, more people who bring healing and hope. May you use all of your beautiful uniqueness to be one of those people!
Much love,
Someone Who Cares

To reach as many people as possibly, we divided our church volunteers into four small groups and went to four different locations. We spent our Sabbath afternoon at the Jefferson Valley Mall, at the Fieldhome Nursing Center, at the Jan Peek House (homeless shelter) and in the surrounding area, and in the Yorktown community going door-to-door by our church.  After spending a few hours passing out the Love Letters and roses, we met back at the church to share testimonies about our experiences. The report to follow is a summary of our church’s collective testimonies from that day.

(Group One) Jefferson Valley Mall-
This experience was incredible. It was a bright sunny day and there were a lot of people at the mall. The mall management arranged for our table to be in the foyer of one of the main entrance’s for the building, and we went through the couple hundred Letters and roses that we had, very quickly. Most people were completely caught off guard by what we were doing. However, when it registered they were getting a red rose and Love Letter for free the smiles on their faces were hard to contain! One young mother returned to our table with a bottled water and cookie she purchased for Julie, our church member, who gave her a Letter and rose. The mother said she was very grateful and gave Julie a huge hug as her two young daughters smiled and looked on, and one of them gently held the rose to her nose.
Moreover, even though we insisted what we were doing was not for profit, others showed their appreciation by giving us small donations of money. Still, another woman showed her appreciation by leading me to her sweet shop where she worked and insisted that I pick out a couple of chocolates for my friends and myself.  Without fail, we witnessed again and again how it just takes a small step to initiate love for the human heart to respond in kind. In another instance, we witnessed a man with a huge smile on his face as he read the Love Letter he had received just moments before. To our delight, we watched as he finished reading the letter and then ran to hold the door open for another person who was just arriving to the mall. Christian shared with me later that perhaps it was the Letter that inspired that man to show love through service in that moment.
Lastly, a favorite moment was when I was able to pray with a woman after she came back to our table to thank and commend us on our service. This woman was older and soft-spoken, and she said she was a Christian too. It was great to express that we were unashamed of our faith in that moment, as we held hands in the busy mall and quieted ourselves for a moment of prayer. I believe many of the people we came in contact with, or who simply witnessed what we were doing, walked away with a more lovable picture of God that day.

(Group two) Fieldhome Nursing Center-
The experience at Fieldhome was a great one. We passed out 125 Love Letters and roses. We also sang Amazing Grace, God is so Good, and What a Friend we Have in Jesus to the residents. Even though we sang in Korean the residents were visibly engaged and enjoyed the music. It was clear that many of the residents were warmed by the fact that their community had come out to love and care for them. One man who was a resident was so overjoyed by the experience, that after our church members sang he went up to Mrs. Lyu and gave her a kiss on the cheek and a big hug. The Fieldhome Nursing Center management appreciated us involving the center. The director of recreation is looking forward to us contacting him again to schedule another date to come and sing.

(Group three) The Jan Peek House-
Matthew shared that one of their first encounters was with three gentlemen who were huddled outside the shelter having a conversation. The men were all middle-aged and Matthew later learned that they were residents of the shelter. When Matthew handed them a Love Letter and rose they were really taken aback. The men expressed great gratitude for the gift. One of the men expressed he would definitely pass the Letter along to someone he loves.
Matthew shared there were also a couple more men at the train station that were noticeably uplifted by the letter. One man was on a bench and the other was leaning against the wall when Matthew approached them to give them the Love Letter and rose. After Matthew gave them the gift and turned to leave, one of the men turned and shouted, “Thanks man!” Matthew shared that overall this experience was a blessing because he was able to share the truth that God loves people in such a widely accessible way. Matthew reflects on his experience further stating,  “The action of handing the letter was easy and non-intrusive and most people were glad to take it. It was really cool knowing that what they would receive in the letter would encourage them.”

(Group four) Door-to-Door-
Eric was very grateful for this experience. He was paired with Emily who is in eighth-grade, and Eric had a very specific prayer request for her experience. Eric shared that he prayed that Emily would be able to see that sharing God’s love is easy and that it has a powerful impact on those with whom she shares it. However, as Eric and Emily went door-to-door they were mainly having brief encounters or no encounters at all. Eric shares that towards the end of the last hour, right after he received the text that the other groups had made it back to the church, he prayed again for an impactful experience for Emily. They went to one last door. Pam and her sister Gayle answered and welcomed them in. The sisters were very grateful for the Love Letter and rose and shared that they are vegetarians and have an interest in church. Eric noted the providence in this connection, as he was able to share that our church has done vegetarian cooking classes in the past and will hold more in the near future. Ultimately, Eric and Emily were able to pray with the sisters and exchanged contact information before leaving. We praise God that He hears and answers our prayers! As Eric and Emily witnessed, the act of sharing God’s love is a blessing to all those involved.

Comments

Beautiful, I loved reading all your experiences. Continue to show compassion. Miss you guys. XO!

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (#1) – March 03, 2017

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