By Brandon Lemons
On this past Friday, Friedens hosted another successful blood drive, with 27 people donating blood! Each blood drive we have hosted in 2020 and 2021 has exceeded the expectations of the organizers.
You may be wondering, “Why does Friedens host blood drives? How do blood drives pertain to our mission as a church?” The (somewhat) short answer is that by hosting blood drives, we are generously serving people’s practical needs while also helping our community recognize Friedens as a welcoming, caring place that they might check out further in the future (which could eventually lead them to Christ).
Here’s the longer description. Friedens started hosting blood drives in 2020 because our Community Care Team was looking for ways to bless our community. Hospitals were experiencing a shortage of blood supplies, and local sites that typically hosted blood drives were cancelling due to COVID concerns. Friedens’ leadership figured we have a nice new building, so why not offer the building as a space to host blood drives?
At our first blood drive in July 2020, 32 people donated (the goal from Versiti, which organizes the blood drives, is 24). Approximately 2/3 of the donors were from Friedens, including several who donated for the first time (and have continued donating at subsequent drives). Giving our own blood demonstrates the generosity of the Friedens Family. In addition, one of the most encouraging aspects for me was that one of Friedens’ closest neighbors, who has never set foot in the church for a ministry activity, saw the sign proclaiming “Blood Drive Today”; he had never donated blood before, but he thought he would give it a try since it was so close to his house, so he walked in and donated! My family has been building a relationship with him for several years, and the blood drive was another encouraging interaction he had with our church, which will hopefully bear spiritual fruit in the future.
At subsequent blood drives, most donors have been from outside of Friedens. This is also a “win”! We are giving people an initial exposure to Friedens Church that is positive and that displays Friedens’ care in practical ways. On top of this, people become comfortable inside Friedens’ building. Each time we host a blood drive, we hear people – both technicians and donors – rave about Friedens’ building, especially its beauty and its functionality for blood drives.
One of the goals of the recent building project was that God would use our building as a blessing to the community. Hosting blood drives is a super easy way to help fulfill this goal and give people an initial, positive exposure to Friedens. It’s been said of non-believers that “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In terms of fulfilling our mission of “making disciples of Jesus through UP-IN-OUT relationships,” blood drives are a tiny part of our OUT relationship with the surrounding community. But hopefully – and prayerfully – over time, God will work through blood drives at Friedens to not only bless the people who receive the life-sustaining blood in hospitals, but that God will also work through the blood drives to introduce people to Jesus – the ultimate blood donor – whose life-giving blood cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7)!