February 14th is a day of rose bouquets, pink and red decorations displayed everywhere, stuffing your face with loads of chocolate, and the like. It’s normally a day for people to celebrate romantic love. Eleven years ago, all of our Gracepoint churches decided to turn the holiday into a ‘Valentine’s Day of Compassion’ (VDOC, for short) to share the love of God to those who are oftentimes least loved.
Our college ministry split off by classes to visit various nursing homes or settlement homes in the Austin area. We chatted with the residents to get to know them and invited them to listen to a message on God’s love for us. We also sang a few songs, including the renowned “Amazing Grace” to recount God’s amazing grace on all of the residents.
Since Valentine’s Day can be a lonely time for these residents as they are separated from their families, it was heart-warming to open up to one another, fill the place with laughter, pray for them, and spread the love of Jesus. We ended the night by giving each of the residents gifts (cute towel crafts in the shape of cupcakes and bears) that we prepared after Bible study on Friday. Some of them even asked for extras to hand out to their friends who couldn’t make it to the program.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)—This message may have been a completely new revelation to some of the residents, but it was also a reminder to the rest of us of how true love manifests itself in our faith. God is love—our first love—and He offers us eternity through His Son, Jesus Christ. It’s a gift infinitely better than any amount of flowers and sweets the world can offer.