Ansell: Maybe we should start a blue bucket ministry

By Ken Ansell

The Blonde and I were in Dallas about a month ago. We went to have lunch with the youngest son Jack and his girlfriend Sarah.    

On the way home at a red light close to downtown, I saw a shopping cart full of stuff and next to it was a blue bucket, you know one of those 5 gallon buckets that you buy from Lowes or The Home Depot.  Typically you see a dude next to something like this asking for help, but it must have been break time because no one was around.

If you remember from last week, we had just done a Bible Study on materialism/consumerism so I took a picture of the cart and the bucket and sent it to one of my friends in the study and made the comment, “I wish we could all live such a minimal lifestyle.”  In other words, what if all we had could fit in a shopping cart and a blue bucket?”  I would definitely need less closet space and probably not be shopping for a storage building right now.

Last week a man came by the office, and he was pulling one of those suitcases with the handle and the wheels.  He was from out of state, could no longer stay where he had been staying, his car was on the opposite end of town in the Wally World parking lot and if I could help he would appreciate it.  He claimed he knew Jesus so I was glad his biggest need had already been met.

We talked for a while, he was Black and he shared his fear of the police, his name was Reggie Jackson so we laughed about being named after one of the all time great baseball players.  When we lived in San Francisco a jillion years ago the vice president of the company I worked for lived next door to Reggie in the Oakland hills so it’s like I practically know Mr. October, ha, just kidding.   

A church in town had already put Reggie up in a motel for the night and gave him $10 for food.  The church I currently serve has no benevolence fund so I pulled an Acts 3:6 on him, “Silver and gold I do not have but what I have I give to you.”  All I had was a $30.00 Sonic gift card someone had given to me, so I gave him the card and we prayed together.  He left my office with no coat and it was rather cold outside.

I sent a text message to two friends that love Jesus a lot and asked them to pray for my new friend.  Later that evening we went to check on Reggie.  He was sitting in his car in the Walmart parking lot, he told me on the way to his car, a man gave him a ride, bought him lunch, gave him some money for gas and gave him a real nice Kansas City Chiefs hoodie (it was so nice it made me jealous).  I reminded him of how people were praying for him and that was God at work.

Not to quote Joe Biden but, “Here’s the deal.”  Church, we have got to do better (I’m preaching to myself), we have got to be better prepared and we have got to stop putting bandaids on bullet wounds.  This guy needed real sustainable help that we are just not prepared to give.  You know the old saying, give a man a fish he eats for a day but teach him how to fish and he eats for life.  One night in a motel and a free lunch is really an insult and so is a Sonic gift card.  Whatever happened to the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12, whatever you wish that others would do unto you, do also to them)?

How can we neglect passages like Acts 20:35, “help the weak … remember the words of the Lord Jesus … ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  And what about Proverbs 19:17, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed.”  And then there is, Deuteronomy 15:11, “open your hand to … the needy and to the poor, in your land.”  And finally, Matthew 5:42, “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

The friend that I sent the picture of the blue bucket to is one of the guys that I  had asked to pray and he gave me a great thought.  He said, “Ken, start a blue bucket ministry.”  The premise is to have blue buckets ready with the things people might need on a temporary basis and start working towards the long term objectives.  Fantastic idea, wished I had come up with it on my own!

Please pray for this old, tired and much too often cynical pastor as he rolls up his sleeves to do the work God has called us all to do.  He told me to tell you that.