Erica T. & Erica G.

Erica T., left, with her two boys, and Erica G., right, with her 1-year-old daughter, have been blessed in a variety of ways through A Loving Choice Pregnancy Support Center in Shelbyville.

A transactional relationship essentially means if you do this for me, I’ll do that for you. 

However, Jesus calls His followers to unconditional love, relationships labeled with no-strings-attached, asterisks or fine print.

To conclude the fall semester of Man Challenge at Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus, the Men’s and Benevolence ministries partnered to give $100 to each of the 71 tables of men who attend Man Challenge. The men were asked to add to the $100 to bless a single mom and her children during Christmas.

“I don’t want to minimalize it, but it just kind of seemed like a layup,” said Wes Sheffield, a Southeast member. “It was like, ‘Here’s this,’ and we were like, ‘OK, wow.’ The goal from both ministries was, ‘Hey, this isn’t a handout. We don’t just want you to throw money at somebody. We want you to be the hands and feet of Jesus, share the Gospel and establish a relationship with them.’ So, this gift was really just a means of being relational and sharing Jesus with somebody.”

Each table was given the name of a mother who could use someone to come alongside and help her family.

Giving to Whitney

Sheffield’s table raised $650 to bless Whitney, a single mom with a teenage son and two kids under 2 years old, with gift cards, diapers, wipes, formula, cash and an unexpected donation while they were shopping for supplies.

“My mother-in-law happened to be at Kroger,” he said. “She asked, ‘What are you guys doing?’ She said, ‘Wow, I want to help.’ She gave a $200 Kroger gift card, which was just really neat.”

Sheffield and Sam Reader, one of his table leaders, drove to Whitney’s home to deliver the gifts on Nov. 30. With Southeast’s Mantras in mind, they pushed past the thought of turning back.

“I think the enemy was all over it,” Sheffield added. “He didn’t want us to do that. The weather was awful. It was torrential. It was freezing. We had every excuse not to do it. ‘We’ll just meet her at church. This is too much work.’ The whole thought from Men’s and Benevolence ministries were to ‘grip the plow.’ This isn’t a sermon we just talk about and then you move on with your life. This is something we’re going to live out. We were just trying to ‘wreck the roof’ for this young lady.”

Sheffield’s wife also wrote Whitney a card and gave her a devotional calendar. Whitney texted Sheffield back to let her know how grateful she is.

“God bless you all for doing this for us. I cannot thank you enough. I am just shocked at what all you brought. Thank your wife for me, too.”

“We think missions, and it’s just international,” Sheffield said. “And you can narrow that down to Louisville. But missions is even in our very own church because this young lady and her kids go to our church, and she has needs.”

Erica G. and Erica T.

A band of four brothers in Christ made the trip to A Loving Choice Pregnancy Support Center in Shelbyville on Dec. 10 to drop off their gifts for two moms.

Kevin Franke, Dr. Gregory Purvis, Dave Eschman and Kyle Wolfe did more than drop off the $1,260 their Man Challenge table collected.

“We were able to simply tell them, ‘We love families. We love what you’re doing to hold your family together. And we’ve been blessed so we want to bless you in the same way Christ has blessed us,’” Franke said.

They gave Erica T. and Erica G. each a $300 Walmart gift card and made a $660 donation to ALC, a community resource center supporting women and families walking through unplanned or crisis pregnancies.

Both Ericas have three children and were unfamiliar with the kindness they have been shown at ALC.

“We had the opportunity to ask several questions,” Franke added. “Kyle Wolfe asked them, ‘What does ALC mean to you?’ Erica G. said, ‘Honestly, this is the first place that anyone was nice to me.’”

Erica G. told them she has been able to dress her children in new clothes so much so that as they have grown out of them she has been able to pass them along to her friends.

Erica T., in addition to her three boys, has taken in her sister-in-law’s two children to keep them out of foster care.

She said ALC has helped with parenting classes and baby supplies, which has allowed her to keep her family together.