Through the amazing world of Facebook I have just reconnected with an old friend who is working with his wife in the Philippines as a church planting missionaries. I was enthralled by reading some of the updates on his personal blog and living rather vicariously through the many stories he wrote about helping to bring others to the Salvation of Christ.
When I was a lot younger I had that desire to go away and help others in either missions or medicine. But somewhere between finding my first apartment, dating and getting married to my husband, and then having kids, everything changed. Dreams changed. Plans changed.
When it comes to service, what does the Lord ask of all of us? Aren’t we all part of His Great Commission? And how can we set a good example of service for our own children?
I picked up my Bible and turned to Matthew 25: 35-40.
‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Service to others in Jesus’ name doesn’t HAVE to mean going away to a third world country. We can all do something that makes a difference in the lives of others locally. It just takes that personal decision that may mean a little sacrifice on our part to get things started. Whether it’s a commitment of time or money–or both, we are called on to make a difference in this world.
Even living through these remarkably bad economic times, the poorest 5% of Americans are richer than 68% of the entire world! That statistic blew me away! It makes me think of Luke 12:48 “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
Many of us may already belong to a church who can lead us to a group in which local missions have already been started. Perhaps your gift / calling is starting such a group? If you’re looking for some ideas to help your church family branch out, these are some good starting points:
1. Volunteer in your local community. Contact a local group, charity or locally sponsored program. Bring your kids along if it is a child-friendly environment!
2. Donate unused goods and clothing that are in GOOD condition. Many local stores that resell usable items offer much needed jobs to the less fortunate in our own communities, which is another form of service. This is also a great place to get your own children involved – ask them to help sort through their old clothes and toys to give some away.
3. Visiting the elderly and sick. By giving a little of our time it can make a huge difference in the lives of others! Another great place to bring your kids along!
4. Serving children. Of course we all think of children’s ministry! But there are also ways to serve our children in their classrooms, at the local library or even as a coach or mentor. Bring your own kids along to minister to their peers.
5. Mourn with those who mourn. Share the hope that Jesus brings to those who are suffering a recent loss. If you can’t find this connection through your local church, many Hospice programs are good resources to assist anyone who wishes to serve those who are dying or the loved ones who have just lost someone.
6. Visit the imprisoned. This is such a fabulous ministry opportunity! Sharing the gift of God’s love and forgiveness with people who may not think they are worthy of these gifts any longer. (This may not be a great place to serve with your children, but certainly a way to set an example for them.)
7. Serve WITH your kids at a local mission / shelter. Whether it’s helping with the meals, doing a little weekend cleaning, or helping to stock a pantry, it’s important to teach our kids about serving others.
Most importantly, use your God given talents! If you love to cook, sew, pray for others, encourage people, make cards, garden or even use the computer…there are services that you can volunteer to do! It’s not a secret that God will meet our needs. But I’ve noticed that He uses His Church, many times, to meet those needs in His name.
How do you serve others in the Lord’s name? How do you serve as a family?