July 20, 2014
We had 96 dollars left, and the list of supplies that we still needed to purchase seemed enormous in comparison. Many of the girls from the floor had given both donations of spare change and had bought supplies for the Good Neighbor Kit, but it still wasn’t enough.
We were also running out of time. It was late fall when the floor first started talking about putting together a World Relief Good Neighbor Kit for a refugee family. But by the time we met together to plan, collected supplies, went through the trainings, and collected more supplies, our projected delivery date for the Good Neighbor Kit had stretched into late April, coming dangerously close to finals week at Wheaton College. The problem wasn’t that the process of putting together the supplies was particularly time-consuming or difficult, but the scattered schedules and commitments among a floor of fifty college students had slowed us down.
One Saturday in April, I felt discouraged about whether or not we would actually be able to follow through. There were supplies to be bought, but I worried about having enough money to pay for everything and bemoaned my lack of a car. In the morning, I let the floor know that we absolutely had to get the supplies before the time that we had scheduled to deliver them. But I had no idea how everything would happen.
Later that afternoon, I received a text message from a student on the floor, Maddie, who had borrowed the car of another girl on the floor, Erin, to go shopping for the rest of the items. I saw her back at the dorm, where everyone that was around helped to bring in the supplies. Maddie gave me the checklist for the Good Neighbor Kit, along with all of the receipts, and I was amazed. There was still money left over.
That week, three of us—Sarah, Ashleigh, and myself—packed everything into one car and drove to the apartment that the family would live in. The father of the household, along with a contact that was assisting the family with their move, met us there. We got to know each other while moving the supplies into the empty apartment.
As the father shared about his family and talked about arriving in the United States, I realized that—while it had been stressful for us to gather everything together—it was undoubtedly even more stressful for the newly arrived family to find transportation, know where the best and most inexpensive places were to shop, and pull together payment, all while navigating a new culture and context. I saw that, even with disorganization and lack of transportation and college budgets, God had provided everything that we needed for the Good Neighbor Kit. And in bringing together the details for us, He was ultimately providing for this refugee family.
College students like to say that we are “poor college students.” We’re always searching for deals and opportunities for free food, and there are very real financial stresses and realities that students deal with. But at Wheaton, there are many of us that do have money to spare, money that we spend on movies and dinners out and clothing. And as Christians, we have a responsibility to be aware of the needs of our community and to share the resources we have.
At time putting together a Good Neighbor Kit was stressful and inconvenient. But I saw through this experience that God’s love for the vulnerable in our community is far greater than my concern or care. When we take the step to give a small piece of our time and resources, He is there to provide. With God, there is always enough.