A reader asked if I could give some examples of ministries I’ve seen honoring God. Since I spend a lot of time encouraging us to engage in following Christ with all of our hearts, I thought it was an excellent suggestion and an opportunity to highlight some people and ministries of which I have become aware. I have added a new section on the “Resources” tab of this site that lists several ministries I support and endorse. But I wanted to highlight a few people and organizations that I have personally witnessed being the hands and feet of Jesus, walking in His footsteps and reaching out to people in need.
Out of Context
Did you ever fail to recognize someone because you saw them outside of their normal context? My wife recently saw our eye doctor shopping in plain clothes with her son by her side. Even though we have been going to the same optometrist for eight years, it took my wife several seconds to recognize the doctor. I’ve done the same thing with neighbors when I see them at a mall instead of around the housing area. The reason this happens is because we associate the face to a place. When we see someone outside of the usual and expected location, we have difficulty recognizing them. Sadly this same principle applies to seeing Jesus in the everyday moments of our lives.
Visiting Those in Prison
Kris Weiskittel is taking seriously the words of Christ in Matthew 25:35. On Sunday nights, you’ll find Kris sacrificing his time to go and visit those in prison. This is a thankless ministry that exists under the radar of most of us. As a regular reader of this blog, Kris was kind enough to allow me to interview him regarding what it’s like to go into the prisons and deliver hope and the love of Jesus to those incarcerated there.
Dine In USA
The very good folks over at “Here’s Life Inner City” ministry are sponsoring the “Dine In Campaign” this holiday season. The premise is very simple. Pick a day (or days) that you would normally eat out, and stay home instead. Instead of spending money at the restaurant, donate what you would have spent to buy a Thanksgiving meal for a poor family in America. For $36.71 you can feed a family of six this holiday season. Instead of facing another year around an empty table, your sacrifice will provide a wonderful meal for an entire family. “Here’s Life Inner City” is using the donations to pack up meals in “Love Boxes” to send to their ministry partners across the nation to feed those in need this season. I highly encourage you to consider taking part in this campaign. This is a very tangible way to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to follow His command to feed the hungry and care for the poor. Click here to donate or learn more.
We can all sacrifice a meal out so that someone else might experience a dinner they would otherwise never be able to afford. Imagine the smiles and full stomachs provided from your simple act of service. Instead of spending on ourselves, let’s give of what we’ve been blessed with to care for another. I am excited to participate in the campaign and to share it with you as well. We talk so much here about sacrifice and caring for the needs of others, and often people ask what they can do and wonder how they can demonstrate Christ’s love to the poor. The “Dine In Campaign” is a great start, a wonderful opportunity to walk as Jesus walked and to touch those he touched.
The poor always held a special place in the heart of Jesus, so we also must be moved with compassion toward those less fortunate than we are. It is so easy to get caught up in the preparation and festivities of the season. Don’t become so busy that you lose focus of the mission. Satan delights in using good things to steer us off course. If he can distract us with the business of the holidays he will have succeeded in turning our eyes from the poor and those in need, both here at home and around the world. For literally billions of people, this time of year holds no sense of celebration. They are too busy simply trying to survive. They are hard at work scrounging for food and dealing with illnesses caused from drinking filthy and contaminated water. We must be careful not to pause in our efforts in continuing the mission of Jesus during this time of the year.
As you are reminded of the things for which you are thankful, remember those who lack hope and are mired in poverty. If we have something for which to be thankful, then we have something which can be shared. Not long after Thanksgiving we will celebrate the greatest gift in the history of mankind, the gift of Jesus. We must see that the gift of God’s Son continues to be spread to those who have not yet heard. We must not relax our efforts to go into the entire world, telling them about Jesus, and serving them in their need. This is the mission Christ entrusted to those who would follow Him and we must not relax our fervor or determination simply because of the holiday season. Indeed, the holidays should inspire us to do more, not less.
This year, consider spending your money and effort on those who truly are in need. Give to the poor, spend time with the outcast and touch the untouchable. This season is a time of great distress and depression for so many as they are reminded of what they lack. May we not be so absorbed with what we have that we neglect the poorest of the poor. Let us endeavor to serve them in humility, love and friendship. Jesus demands nothing less of us. Pray to ache as He does over the plight of the poor. Thank Him for your blessings and then share all you can with someone in need. Make this holiday season a season of service. The smiles you encounter will be those of Jesus Himself as you carry out His work on earth.
Preparing to Serve
Last week we talked about not waiting around for the perfect moment to start serving Christ (see, “Life is Not a Bus Stop”). There is a flip side to this coin as well: we must be prepared to serve. If you want to help the homeless, it’s rarely a good or effective idea to head downtown and simply start handing out hotel keys. You need to understand the environment and the mentality of those you wish to serve. Jesus told us to be shrewd (Matthew 10:16) in our dealings with the world, so we need to be wise in our decisions, and utilize the gifts with which we have been entrusted.
As with any venture in life, you must prepare for success before you can achieve it. Achievement rarely falls into your lap, but rather is the result of diligence and hard work. In the above scenario, before you start a ministry to the homeless, you need to study everything you can lay your hands on that pertains to homelessness. You need to understand the psychology of the citizens of the streets and learn the rules that govern them. Pray, study, pray, read, pray; prepare your heart, mind and body for the work that lies ahead of you. Volunteer at a shelter in your city or in several cities. The point is if you are not actively engaged in the ministry for which you are gifted, you need to be preparing for the road ahead. Success comes to the diligent, and if you will prepare well, you will find great joy once your ministry begins. The goal is to glorify Christ by using the gifts He has given us. We would do well to become well versed in their usage. Someone with the gift of music doesn’t one day pick up an instrument and begin to play flawless works. No, they practice for hours on end, day in and day out. They are honing their gift, just as we all must do, regardless of what our gifts may be.
It can be easy to become discouraged during this time of sowing or practicing. It’s also easy to become frustrated when we are involved in active ministry but we aren’t seeing any tangible results. These feelings are natural. We want to glorify our King; we want to be out in the battle. It really becomes a matter of attitude. Are we seeking to glorify God or ourselves? If we truly have Christ in mind, we will patiently and positively bide our time, diligently preparing ourselves for the moment we will find ourselves thrust onto the front lines. By keeping our talents sharpened and our focus always on Jesus, we will be prepared at any moment for whatever may come our way. Remember, ministry happens every day in the interactions you have with others. Pray and study, then actively seek to apply what you have learned to your own life and in service to others. Those without Christ are always watching us, watching our attitudes. Stay positive and ready to serve Jesus at all times.
Finally, whether you are in a sowing or reaping phase, whether you are practicing or executing, do it with excellence. You represent the King and Creator of the universe. Do no shoddy work for Jesus. Remember what He gave up for you; certainly we can give no less in return! God rewards the diligent. Today’s frustration is tomorrow’s joy and triumph. Keep moving regardless of where you are in life. Take action, and do so with excellence. Read the book of Proverbs and see all the wonderful wisdom contained in that book as it pertains to diligence and work. God has uniquely gifted you for service, not for discouragement. If you will hone and use your gifts unabashedly for Him, He will use you to glorify Himself. In so doing, you will find the peace and the joy you have been seeking.
Don’t wait for divine intervention; identify and learn how to use your gifts so that you might be prepared at any moment to be the very hands and feet of God. Remember to stay focused and maintain a positive attitude when nothing seems to be working. In all you do, do it with excellence. God has supplied you with gifts for His service; He expects us to learn to use them well. God will reward those who passionately seek to serve Him. Prepare to serve, and then serve well.