Carleen Alderman has been on staff since 2000. She shares how tangible proof of unconditional love has made an impact on her personally:
I experienced the Walk to Emmaus in October 1988 when I was in my mid-forties. Before that time I had always been a believing Christian. Our family was members of a small Presbyterian Church in a town of 3,000 people. We were in church every time the doors were open. It was not a choice that I made whether to attend youth group or not when I was in high school. It was a mandate from my mother.
Thank goodness she cared enough about us to make sure we were surrounded by people who loved us. My father was only 43 years old when he died suddenly with a heart attack. That left my mother to guide and direct us four sublings in the right direction. She and the rest of the town of Memphis, Texas kept us on the straight and narrow. I am grateful every day for that guidance in my life.
When I met my husband, John, it was after I had finished college and was working for an oil company in Amarillo, Texas. My mother was not crazy about anyone that I dated until I brought home a certain "John Alderman" to meet her. He is a great man but the best part of him for my mother was that he was a Presbyterian!
When I experienced my Walk to Emmaus, the part I found the hardest to know what to do with and the part that impacted me the most was all of the "agape" gifts that we received all weekend long. These gifts were given to us anonymously and we were never to know the giver. The gifts represented the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. That being the purpose of agape, an individual's name does not belong on the gift.
Now, being raised by my mother, one of the hardest things for me to receive was a gift and then not be able to write a thank you note. That was a major faux pas in my formative years. You never accept a gift from someone without letting them know in writing how appreciative you are!! And preferably within a day or two…..
The unconditional love of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, can be a hard thing for us to understand and accept. On my Emmaus weekend, all kinds of wonderful things were done for us and we did not know who did it. But what an amazing impact that unconditional love had on me personally.
How do you respond to gifts being left on your desk, your front porch or other places and you do not know the giver? How do you respond when someone in front of you in a drive-through pays for your drink and you cannot respond? It can have a powerful impact on your life. Experiencing anonymous servanthood is wonderful for the recipient and can be even more powerful for the giver.
Many years ago the leadership of our church was going through a major decision making season of its life – and still is!! I remember that the session was going off-site for an all-day meeting in another location. Several of us who had been on the Walk to Emmaus determined to have an agape table full of snacks, drinks and small gifts and leave it out in the hallway where they would find it when they came out on their first break. We were told later that the impact of that small effort had amazing results in their deliberations. Just to know that someone loves you that much on behalf of Jesus Christ can change everything.
I have been privileged to serve on the Trietsch staff since 2000. The impact that has had on my life cannot be measured! Very often we come to work and find little gifts left for us in our cubicles or offices. Sometimes we know the giver, but more often we don't. It always, always makes the day brighter for us as the receivers. But almost as impactful as receiving is how it changes your life to be the giver.
A quote from "Sustaining the Spirit" that has always meant a lot to me is the definition of ministry. "As we see, feel, receive and experience more and more of Christ in ourselves, then more and more of Christ can be seen, felt, received and experienced by others through us – that's ministry."
How can you impact others for Christ today?