Whether it was by welcoming vendors or replenishing the church’s benevolent fund that allows it to fill a stranger’s tank with fuel or help a family with a housing deposit, Stony Brook Church’s third annual Craft Fair and Outdoor Concert held June 8, 2019, provided ways for the church to bless its Omaha, Nebraska, community.
For its craft fair, held the second Saturday of June, SBC provided more than 105 spaces for various non-profit organizations, craft vendors, direct sales representatives and food vendors. The church supplied two tents for vendors that don’t have their own tents, a bounce house for children, a free-will baked goods sale and a free raffle with more than 85 gifts and prizes. Two bands played at the event.
“The best parts of the event are the connections made with others in our community and the opportunity for our church family to deepen relationships through volunteering,” says SBC church administrator and craft fair planning team member Melissa Hanna. “These benefits far outweigh the monetary benevolence boost.”
Vendors paid a small fee to set up, which went toward SBC’s benevolence fund to help Omaha families in need. SBC’s LIFT ministry goes beyond financial assistance and is more than “one and done,” Hanna says.
According to Hanna, LIFT is community-, relationship- and scripture-based, not only fostering a community of people who are Spirit-led in their giving, but also connecting people in need to those who can help fulfill the need.
“Trusting God and being ready to respond to God‘s call to love someone in need, whether they are having a financial struggle, loss of a job, unexpected (or expected) pregnancy, loneliness, anxiety or depression or just a broken sink that needs repair,” Hanna says. “This is not just enjoying watching God work but being willing to be used by God and participate as God actively moves through our midst and becoming aware of God‘s presence as you watch him bless your hands and generosity for his glory.”
One recipient of a full tank of gas shared how grateful the family was for SBC’s help: “My family (and I) were desperate to get home to Kansas, and we ran out of gas. We didn’t think anyone would be at a church on a Friday night, but we hoped. The lady at the church had her husband take us to the gas station across the street. He filled up our tank.”
On another occasion, SBC’s benevolent fund provided a portion of a deposit for a family who lost their apartment and needed a new place. LIFT will follow up with the family, Hanna says.
Vendors, too, are blessed by the craft fair.
“The overall success story is the responses from all the vendors saying the overwhelming feeling of love and ‘home’ they felt at the event,” Hanna says.
For the first time this year, SBC hosted a potluck to follow up on the connections made through the craft fair. Scheduled a month after the event, the barbecue meal was held on the community patio and followed by SBC’s ENCOUNTER 60—60 minutes of worship music and prayer held each quarter.
“(The craft fair fosters) connections made with vendors, others in our community and the opportunity for our church family to deepen relationships through volunteering,” Hanna says. “These deeper relationships provide a love and relationship that God intended all along.”