Living the love in Tahoe

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pastor Joe Thomas of Franklin Baptist Church in Salisbury loves leading the children’s sermons on Sunday mornings. When the children walk down front, there are always smiles from the congregation not only because they are cute, but because no one’s ever quite sure what they might say.
One Sunday morning not long ago, Pastor Joe asked the children how they knew when someone loved them. After a moment of silence, they began giving answers such as, “They give you a place to live, they give you hugs, they feed you, they clean your room.”
Ripples of laughter could be heard throughout the sanctuary with that last answer because probably most everyone wished someone would clean their room. After the laughter died down, Pastor Joe concluded the lesson by telling the children the Bible teaches love means serving others. A verse of scripture to reference for that point is Galatians 5:13 which says, “ … but through love serve one another.”
Franklin Baptist Church is blessed to have many members who are willing to serve. Sometimes that means something as simple as a visit, phone call or card, but other times it means going the extra mile and doing what Pastor Joe calls self-sacrifice.

An example of that was demonstrated recently by a young lady in the church who felt the call to travel 3,000 miles to minister to preschool children. Tara Safrit is one of those people who lights up a room and makes everyone a little happier for having spent time with her. Only 23 years old, she already knows what it means to sacrifice comfort and security to help others.
Over the last few years as a pre-school teacher, Tara has volunteered to work with children in a Christian environment. That volunteer work led to the position of camp counselor last summer at Camp Mundo Vista, a Baptist camp near Asheboro. Recognized as one of the outstanding leaders during 2012, she received an invitation to work at a Baptist church preschool in Lake Tahoe, Calif., for the 2013 winter semester.
After much thought and prayer, Tara gave up her teaching position in Kannapolis, leaving home to minister to preschool children in Lake Tahoe. Since her arrival, she has been posting on Facebook pictures of her activities. Although she looks happy, some of those photos make me shiver. Piedmont North Carolina usually has a snowfall in the range of a few inches to a foot or two. Lake Tahoe has snowfall sometimes in the range of five feet or more.
Arriving last month, Tara soon found she would not only be working with preschoolers, but also with the ski ministry. After attending early service each Sunday at her church, she travels with a team of eight to area ski lodges, where they lead church services anyone can attend. Tara has especially enjoyed getting to know the families of Tahoe and said through a Facebook message, “Even though the ministry is challenging, it’s so worth it. With one month down, I am really anticipating the next four months to see what God has in store for me.”

Remembering what Pastor Joe’s definition of love is, I would say Tara definitely understands the meaning of self-sacrificing to serve others. Although her commitment is for only five months, I’m sure the friendships she has made and the children’s lives she touches will last a lifetime. In Tara’s willingness to sacrifice, she too needs others to lift her up through gestures that seem small, but mean so much.
If you’re interested in sending Tara a card, letter or care package, her mailing address is Semester Missionary, Tara Safrit, P. O. Box 7433 Tahoe City, Calif. 96145. Her shipping address is First Baptist Church, Tara Safrit, 390 Fairway Dr., Tahoe City, Calif. 96145.
Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, this year, instead of or in addition to candy and flowers, think about showing love through a gesture of self-sacrifice. Perhaps, as one child suggested during Pastor Joe’s children’s sermon, show love by “cleaning their room.” If you decide to take this challenge, don’t be surprised if like a boomerang, someday that kind of love will find its way right back to you.

Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, and Barnes & Noble. Call her at 704-278-4377.