A few weeks ago, I was surprised to come across an article in the New York Times about my hometown—Sycamore, Illinois. An hour west of Chicago, few people from Illinois know the small town, but it caught the attention of one reporter because of a touching story about a farmer and his wife.
Glenn Bolander had fallen behind his harvesting schedule because his wife, Carol, is battling cancer. That's when nearly 100 volunteers from the farming community came to their aid, and a great number of combines harvested the Bolanders' fields in a little more than five hours. It would have taken Glenn four weeks. When the farmers finished, they shared a potluck dinner together and even set up a meal plan for the Bolanders during this difficult time.
My heart swelled for my hometown, the Bolanders, and their generous farming community. I wondered if there were any believers in the group of volunteers that day. I hoped so, because I find the story to be a perfect example of what the church should be—sacrificing our time, money, possessions, and even business (those farmers had their own fields to tend to) for those in need. Everyone who had something to contribute did.
Do our church communities live up to the Sycamore farming community? I'd venture to say: sometimes. I've experienced the church community at work. In my last semester of college I totaled my car. I lived only a mile from school so I was able to get to class with my ten dollar vintage Schwinn bicycle with one good brake, but I had other commitments outside of school that required alternative transportation. A couple from my church offered me their car for more than two weeks. I was touched by the Lord's provision, their generosity, and remember thinking at the time that this is the church community in action. Now that I live in a new town and attend a new church, I still see other believers intervening for one another.1