Growing up, Barb’s family was always involved in the church and it was a priority in their lives. “Once I started college, however, I only went to church sporadically,” Barb said. Her husband, Mike, grew up similarly and when the two decided to find a church to attend as a couple, they searched for one that would meet both of their needs. They settled on a church, but after time, Mike started looking for other options and found Door Creek Church.
“Mike really liked Door Creek, but my kids and I were happy with the church we were attending and saw no point in changing,” Barb said. Over the next several years, Mike would occasionally attend church with his family and they would occasionally attend church with him. Eventually, they admitted having two churches was not working for their family and Barb and the kids made a switch.
The service was quite different than what Barb was used to, but she enjoyed the new emphasis on Biblical teaching and living out her faith daily. “I have to admit though, being Catholic was much easier. As long as I followed the rules, attended regularly, donated money and volunteered, I was doing what was asked,” Barb said.
Over time, Barb realized that accepting Christ as her Savior was not the end of a Christ-follower’s journey, rather just the beginning. “I always knew Christ, but I was learning that having a relationship with Him was not something that could be checked off a list. It is an ongoing walk that stretches and grows us,” said Barb. “Admittedly, this is a much more challenging path, but it has led to a richer, deeper relationship with Christ.”
About three years into her time at Door Creek Church, Barb and her oldest daughter Beth went on a service trip to Uganda. “It was so inspiring to meet people who had faith so much deeper and broader than I could ever imagine having,” said Barb. This trip made such an impact on Barb that a few years later, she went on another service trip to LA with her youngest daughter Grace. The focus was serving and praying for the city’s homeless population. “I was interested in serving the homeless population in Madison, so I hoped to learn things that would help me get started,” she said. This trip wound up being a catalyst for Barb.
Soon after returning home, Barb and Mike learned of a volunteer group invested in serving Madison’s homeless population called, ‘Friends of the State Street Family’. “We asked to shadow one night and we never looked back. Every Wednesday night, we fill up our wagons with supplies such as food, socks, blankets, sunscreen, bug spray, etc…and drag it up and down State Street, connecting the homeless population with what they need,” said Barb.
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? – James 2:15-16
Though not a Christian organization, Barb and Mike’s motivation to serve is driven by their faith. “We are encouraged by so many of the people we serve,” said Barb. “Many of them share that they only get through each day because of their faith.” When possible, Barb and Mike pray with people and share the message of God’s love. “I have met some amazingly wonderful, generous and faithful people out on the street. I set out to spread the word of Jesus but find many of them have a deeper faith and more generous heart than I do,” said Barb. “I am humbled by many of the people I have met and am grateful for the opportunity to serve them.”
“In my old life, if someone told me they were working with the homeless population, I would have thought it was great, it just wouldn’t have occurred to me that it was my responsibility to be the one doing it,” Barb admitted. “As my relationship with Christ has grown, I have come to realize the larger responsibility outside of myself and family. Jesus calls on all of us to be disciples for His kingdom, spreading the Good News in the Bible, using whatever tools have been given to us by Him.”
Barb admits it is easy to get overwhelmed with the world’s problems and become discouraged and apathetic, “…yet, as Christ followers, we have a responsibility to help the vulnerable and those in need. Not because doing these things will get us into Heaven, but because we simply have the ability to serve others as Jesus did,” said Barb. “Through Jesus, all things are possible and He gives us the strength to overcome our fears and apathy to help in whatever capacity we can.”
As Barb’s faith has grown, so has her willingness to be open to God’s direction. “Having a deeper relationship with Christ has helped with this. I no longer want to volunteer out of a sense of obligation or guilt, but with a grateful and humble heart.”
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. – James 2:14-17