Yesterday we added to our region’s Op Shop numbers by 1 more as we opened our new shop in the very small country town of Ouyen (pronounced OH-YEN) in North West Victoria. Almost 4 months ago we heard of a community outcry as their beloved second hand shop being run by another not-for-profit was being closed. The town was holding meetings to determine if they could continue to run the shop independently and it was at this point that my husband and I asked our Thrift Shops Manager if there was something we might be able to do to help.
Ouyen is 100kms south of where we live, and as we already oversee 3 Op Shops in our locality it was simply a matter of working out the logistics of adding another one into the mix. This was not something we were trying to do to build our own ’empire’, but something was drawing us to this town that seemed to be feeling left out and overlooked whenever it came to funding or support.
We had a few hurdles to face, but we are proud of the team that we have around us and yesterday we saw all that come to fruition when the ribbon was cut to signal trading had officially begun.
To coincide with this, we held a community focussed event with a multitude of activities. The buzz around the place was electric, and it wasn’t just about buying someone else’s cast offs and saving clothing and other items from landfill, although that is a worthy enough goal. The residents from Ouyen, and many surrounding towns had gathered together to celebrate the fact that instead of another company or organisation leaving the town, we were coming in. We were there to give back and to find out what else The Salvation Army could bring to this region.
We were initially concerned that the locals might resent us ‘outsiders’ coming in to their space, but it was almost the opposite. Our simple action of stepping in to help has been embraced wholeheartedly at this stage. I understand that time will tell, but for now the very fact that we were intent on providing a family focussed celebration aimed at bringing the community together was a welcome initiative.
It would have been super easy to decide it wasn’t our problem, or it would be too far to travel, or too hard to pull it off, and yet it is, it’s not and it wasn’t really. We are not sure where this partnership with this area will lead, but we have a very strong feeling that this is just the beginning. I am excited by the possibilities, and challenged by the fact that by our standards the event we ran on Saturday was fairly small, but in Ouyen’s eyes it was a big deal. A really big deal.
I was thinking about this in the light of scripture. To me, what we did was not huge, but it seems to have had a significant impact. In the book 1 Timothy, chapter 5 and verse 25 it tells me, ” … good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.” I was not recognising how obvious our actions were, but the receivers saw them in an altogether different way.
May our good deeds with genuine motive not be hidden, but bring glory to God and His love for all.