“Feeling Grateful For all He Has Given to me!” Cassie Matthew

Cassie Matthew is a fairly new friend of mine, yet I feel like I have known her all my life.  I love her like a sister and so enjoy getting to know her better.  Cassie is the founder of a ministry called Hands Up Ministries here on the Northside of Richmond, VA.  When we met a year or so ago, she had never heard of CCDA (Christian Community Development Association), Dr.John Perkins, Bob Lupton,  Wayne “Coach” Gordon or any of the well-known folks who have been doing CCD for years…dare I say decades.  But, the Holy Spirit led her to do this work, and she obediently got busy.  Now, we are partnering and learning this stuff together.  She is such an inspiration and encouragement to me!  This is an email that she sent out today to her “pals”, which I am grateful to be counted as one of them.  I have posted it with her permission.  Take a read…and check out Hands Up…you won’t be disappointed.  I promise!

Cassie – Thank you for being my friend and sister in Christ.  I am grateful for how you model being Jesus to our friends.  You’re the best!!!  I am sooo looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us in the future!  May God be glorified in all that we do and say!  Love you!  Mart

November 14, 2011

Dearest my pals….

I am sitting in the doctors office, patiently waiting for a biopsy report to come back…thinking  of how grateful I am to have insurance that I can just waltz in here, fill out paper work sit down and have the work done…never paying a dime(today). Just a mole on the face…not to worry. There is a little coffee machine, and SNACKS…my darlin’ husband is having a big time while I’m all patched up here with a big fat swollen eye….I am comparing my experience with that of my friends, who don’t have the luxury of insurance(private), who sit in offices, without snacks, without coffee and piped in music….and are barely acknowledged. I have sat with my friends in the doctors office, with their “Va. Premier” insurance card, they are treated in a much different fashion than I’m being treated today.

The disparity is so obvious, hurtful, and unnecessary. Why? Why must we treat “the poor” so differently? ‘Perhaps’… I wonder, if we treated friends with dignity, if it were required,  I dare to say many folks might take better care of themselves in a more positive way. Feeling uplifted versus leaving angry and indignant. It just makes me sad, and If you don’t see it firsthand, it doesn’t enter your mind.
Just wondering. Just praying God is leading me somewhere…social injustices abound.

On a lighter, happier note…..This semester has been amazing at the Ministry…I’d love to share with you. VCU students have been so wonderful, we started  “Adopt a Family”  pilot  and it is going so well. The city friends are grateful to have someone over who cares, and the Students are really excelling at loving others. Antonio(VCU) has been mentoring a friend, Allen, making decks, fixings friends homes(small jobs, however important), from this opportunity, neighbors want them to come over and help them…For a Fee for the friends! This my friend, is so exciting.  I have to admit, it takes a real effort to help friends, without hurting them, or letting them think “WE” are the answer…“We” are not!…I am very conscious of this always. We must support and not enable…that isn’t always an easy call. Many times it’s not until I’ve(we) made mistakes, that I realized..OK that does/did not help.  Many times, calling on God and asking for His Guidance, is the only comfort I have. 

Without a shadow of a doubt, I have finally accepted, there is NO ONE I can change, my power is only working in vain, like a hamster on a wheel…i am just killing myself hoping for a change in individuals…NOPE..that does NOT work. There is only one HOPE: Christ. He is THE only answer.  Christ and the individual have to come to terms with what they are willing to give Him, to make changes, I am no different..I must lean into Him, ask Him for the strength I lack for change…and for me, it’s as equally hard, frustrating, difficult, and often I want to quit, many times I do quit. Knowing what is best, I quit, or i don’t DO what is best for me.
In my own strength, I can’t do it. Imagine how my friends feel…who lack all that I have, i see their pain and difficulty. Still i wonder, is this the way to approach friends…with the encouragement of God, I push on, press in,  listen for His direction and get up and try once more. Peace abounds.

There is joy in giving, loving, seeing others receive joy from giving. VCU students who are teaching dance class to our sweet babies, helping Mohammed with his fire stained home with a fresh coat of paint.  Students who are taking the children on field trips to local parks.Tutors who are loving the children and see the true impact sitting with a child for 1.5 hours, right then and there you feel the impact. VCU lady rams who have taken a day to spend it with our kids to teach them basketball drills, but truly making the children feel so special for being them. Inviting us back, all 25 of us to cheer on the team…Amari says..”Hey there is my coach, Andrea…She yells..”Go Andrea” as if they are long lost friends…Fills my souls with love only God could be filling.

So I press on, trying to do all that this ordinary person can do, and when I am exhausted and defeated, He sends an encouraging word my way through His people. He sends me to an extraordinary Sunday School class with beautiful women…or a local Bible study in my neighborhood for His love. Know that there are moments when i say “Really God?”…I can’t…”Then it’s amazing, i look back, and He and I did.”

For those of you who like numbers: We are sending out 65 meals for Thanksgiving(everyone hand delivered by families, SS classes, small groups, circles, Schools), leting folks know we are proud of their hard work and we recognize them and letting them know there are families who care. 29 kids came to tutoring on Wed., with 30 individual tutors from around the city, with a hot meal from SunTrust and a bedtime story to send them home, loved, full, and tired.(Me Too)

25 of us went to see the VCU Lady rams play ball, that feat alone takes an act of congress to make happen…i wish logistics were easier…But they can make me stronger. Thanks to NHPC for always loaning us vans to get the babies around safely.

We visited Monroe Park to hand out  50 hygiene kits and warm clothes and blankets to the homeless, this is a tough gig….send in your warm coats/hats/gloves for men please.(used is perfect)…Let’s go back!

Knitting continues, Computer classes are increasing, jobs are still hard to land, but we are still pushing folks to keep working on new skills.

We’ve had over 180 volunteers this month, doing a variety of demonstrations of loving others, one favorite new act of love was Wally from NHPC who came and played his acoustic guitar and sang to MY SWEET FRIENDS…it’s so EXCITING when something so beautiful happens like that. He gave what he had…his gift of music.

We keep our focus on housing, knowing this can make the biggest tangible difference in a person’s life in the city…dreams we too have and want. I ask for your prayers for God to Bless this direction, praying for a tangilbe way to show our love in the lives of the working poor.
My love and thanks, for all of you, for your time, your donations, your love and words of encouragement….As I tell my children as I put them on the bus…”Be a Blessing…not a Burden!” Come. Give. Pray.

His in Christ,

Cassie Matthew
Hands Up Ministries/Founder

One Comment on ““Feeling Grateful For all He Has Given to me!” Cassie Matthew”

  1. Byron McMillan says:

    Great post, Marti! It’s a wonderful thing when others see the vision and join the work with us. Keep rockin’ for Him in Richmond.