Recently, Kingdom Causes Bellflower held an annual dinner. Admittedly, the event is a fundraiser, but it is also a time to celebrate the stories of transformation from the previous year, along with highlighting the challenges that remain in our path.

Some of the work that we do can be captured with numbers. We can highlight the number of people who have made a successful transition from homelessness, to Margaret’s House, to a more stable living situation. We can talk about the number of men who have overcome employment barriers through our Good Soil Industries program, and are now on a better path of personal and vocational growth. There are plenty of numbers that we can share, and those numbers play a key role.

Numbers are important, as they can provide practical and measurable indicators of success. However, numbers only paint part of the picture. In many cases, the more powerful aspects of what we do are conveyed through stories. From the early days of KCB, we have maintained a practice of sharing stories. While a story may only highlight one individual or family, they are a constant reminder of why we do what we do.

Life is about people. Real people, with real stories.

The annual dinner is an opportunity to share a few stories from the past year. If you have been to one of our dinners, you know that the stories can be incredibly compelling. It would be wonderful if every story was filled with joy, success and happy outcomes. Those stories do happen, and when they do, they are amazing to share.

What we all know is that not every story has a simple, satisfying conclusion. The stories that we share at our dinner can be raw, tragic and heartbreaking. We don’t share those stories to shock our community or just tug on people’s heartstrings. We tell those stories because they are an accurate reflection of what goes on in our neighborhoods. Here is a link to a couple of those stories.

At this last dinner, we had a couple get up a speak about their experience with helping one of their neighbors. As they spoke, one of them reflected on the fact that through this experience she realized that she needed to know more about the type of hardship that people go through every day.

Her testimony was a reminder that people are not in the habit of seeking out sorrow. We don’t get up in the morning and ask every person we meet to tell us something sad that is going on in their lives.

I am not going to advocate that you seek out tragedy in your life and live your daily existence under a dark cloud of sad thoughts. There is nothing wrong with waking up and looking for reasons to be happy about the new day. That said, the testimony that we heard at the dinner was an opportunity for accountability as we walk the path of faithful service. The brothers and sisters in our community have needs, and today is as good a day as any to reach out. We just need to take notice.

Our dinner did include some time of sorrow and more than a few tears, but there were also some amazing moments of joy, hope and optimism about the future. We call this event our Together Dinner because that is how we are going to live in the moment and then continue to move forward. Through the moments of sadness and the celebrations of success, we are going to live this life together.