Medford church members spread good fortune

Spurred by small amounts, Medford church members spread good fortune
Dale Schaeffer, lead pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene in Medford, started a "Pay it Forward" charity at the church. Mail Tribune / Jamie LuschJamie Lusch

As the new guy in town, one Medford pastor honored the true meaning of "paying it forward" when he brought a concept of helping others from his church in Illinois to his new home at Medford Church of the Nazarene.

Lead pastor Dale Schaeffer, who recently moved to the Rogue Valley, filled 900 envelopes with between $2 and $50 and gave them to church members two weeks ago.

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For more on the project, see www.blessthevalley.com.

The plan? Pray about ways to bless someone in the community and report back on the chosen deed.

All told, the church provided about $3,500 towards the effort.

The envelopes of money were coupled with a month's worth of "challenge" texts that suggested things ranging from cooking a meal for a neighbor to paying for a stranger's gas or buying someone coffee on a cold day.

"We reminded people that they have been blessed and to go and be a blessing," Schaeffer said. "We wanted to tangibly remind people of that this Christmas so we did a reverse offering and asked members to use them to be a blessing to someone else.

"We asked that everyone would pray about who it was that God wanted them to bless. They could add to it or just use what they had."

Church members did everything from purchase and cook food for homeless community members to delivering donuts to local firemen.

In many cases, Schaeffer said, they added to the funds they received and came up with creative ideas.

In a favorite good deed for Schaeffer and other pastors, one church member turned $5 into $200 when he learned that children at Kids Unlimited were in need of winter jackets.

"This gentleman's $5 became $200 because he felt called to help provide coats for those kids," Schaeffer said.

"Another gal was approached by someone who was out of gas and trying to get home and she remembered she had her money that she had prayed about what to do with. Another story that was shared was by a group of ladies who put their money together and added more to it and cooked a hot meal and took it to the folks at a nearby park and fed 12 (homeless) people and visited with them."

Church member Krystle Bowen, whose envelope contained $10, recruited her three sons to help meet Schaeffer's challenge.

With the funds, she and her three sons purchased donuts for a local firehouse.

Responding to daily text challenges, Bowen and her sons did a number of good deeds, including making a meal for neighbors who they would find out had been dealing with burst pipes and unable to cook for weeks.

Bowen said the pay-it-forward idea and daily challenges were a great project for church members.

"I think that helping other people should be the focus of the church every day and not just at Christmas," she said.

"This was a really great way for our church to get our hands dirty a little bit and start looking outside of the walls."

Church member and Talent resident Angela Quintero said the pay-it-forward idea helped push church members beyond the confines of the church walls and encouraged them to come up with new ways to help those in need.

"It pushes us out of our comfort zone and was an awesome way to give us an opportunity to stretch our minds," Quintero said.

"The majority of envelopes were two and five dollars. It was a challenge figuring out how to bless someone with a small amount of money."

With $2 received in her own envelope, Quintero said she waited for an opportunity to present itself. Standing in line after some Christmas shopping, Quintero was able to help someone who came up short at the cash register when buying holiday gifts.

"The lady in front of me was short $3 and pulled a pair of slippers out of her cart to give back. These two ladies together were going through their purses pulling out change so I added a dollar to the $2 that I had and handed it to the cashier," she said.

"She just thanked me a gazillion times. It was really sweet and she went on to tell me the slippers were for her daughter-in-law and that she was just really appreciative that she would still be able to have them to give to her."

That deed, Quintero said, prompted her 12-year-old to want to make and deliver hot chocolate to gas station attendants and to take on a number of other daily challenges.

"It has just sparked this thing in our house where we're trying to figure out little things we can do to love on the people that we interact with daily but don't really take the time to appreciate," she said.

Schaeffer said he was proud of how his new church family met the challenge they were presented.

"I'm excited to get to be part of a church that when you put them in that position they really act on it," he said.

"I think the important thing that everyone got from this is that the ones doing the good deeds got as much out of this as the people they were helping. It goes to show that it truly doesn't take a lot to help someone out. Small things done with great love can really change someone's day and even change their lives."

For more on the project, see www.blessthevalley.com.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffyp76@yahoo.com



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