I thought I would take a minute to tell you a little bit about The Association – why I started it, and what my goals are.
Years ago, I read a book called "That Printer of Udell's", by Harold Bell Wright. In the story, a poor out-of-work beggar shows up at a church one Sunday, and is desperate for help – he's hungry, lonely, and out of work.
The beggar sat through the entire church service listening to the pastor talk about how Christians should help the needy, and act like Jesus would – but at the end of the service, almost everyone just walked past the poorly dressed beggar as he looked to them for help.
Finally, the pastor and one of the elders of the church stopped and asked if he needed something, but when he asked for help finding a job, they turned him away without any help. The beggar finally ended up on the doorstep of a printer – a man named Udell, who was NOT a churchgoer, and was in fact an atheist.
The printer gave the beggar food, a job, good clothes, and a place to sleep. As it turned out, the printer (atheist) acted more like Jesus than the people who went to the church.
Over time, the beggar became friends with a young woman who invited him to a young adult church group from another church. The beggar found that this new church actually practiced what it preached, and the pastor and the beggar became good friends.
The beggar still remembered, however, how his life was before the printer took him in and gave him a job. He remembered all the other poor, starving people on the street, who had nowhere to go at night – and often ended up in the gutters, drunk. So he decided to ask the pastor of this new church if he could have a room built on to the church – this would be a Reading Room, open to anyone who might drop in, who wanted to talk, read a book, or have a cup of coffee.
The pastor was able to get support from his congregation, and the Reading Room was built on to the church – with the beggar, who wasn't even a "proclaimed" Christian, in charge.
The beggar met everyone who came to the Reading Room in a kind, friendly manner, and was able to assist many in finding jobs. Over time, he realized that he admired the person that Jesus was, because Jesus truly did care for him so much, that he gave his life. The beggar had also discovered that some Christians really did act like Jesus did.
Soon, the beggar determined that he would start a non-profit corporation called The Association, which would provide temporary housing, food, and jobs for the same type of people who had once come to the Reading Room. The leadership of The Association helped people who seriously wanted to help themselves become self-supporting.
Not much later, the printer named Udell (the atheist) saw how the beggar acted as Jesus would, and Udell came to have faith in God, knowing that Christianity wasn't just a fake, as he had thought.
My goals for this Association Internet system are similar to the beggar's Reading Room – to be a place where people can come in and find rest, good things to read, and a friend to talk with (and that cup of coffee is coming any time now!)
I also hope that somehow, even in the smallest way, people will see a glimmer of what Jesus would be like, if he was here in person.
For those who want good, Jesus is someone you can admire, don't you think?