That’s actually a very troubling question. My first thought was, I do all those things you mentioned, but I also serve family, loved ones, and neighbors as I can, and the occasional stranger. And some of my giving (actually just a small percentage) goes to helping those in some form of physical need. But, of course, this is nothing much more than any “good” person would do, whether they are a follower of Christ or not.
I think though, this is about to change in my life. Tuesday night I attended “Bridge Church”, a “church” here in Nashville that meets under a bridge that focuses on ministering to the needs of the homeless. It was AWESOME! The volunteers arive at about 5:30 to set up the chairs, speaker system, chuck wagon, and packaged food distribution truck.
About 6:00 the ladies began serving the hot meals. Shortly there after the worship service also began while people were being served. We worshipped together, both encouraging and engaging styles of worship. Some ate, some sang, some prayed, some smoked, some walked around nervously, some… It was one of the most refreshing worship services I’ve participated in - real people with no pretense of being anything but in need.
After about 45 minutes of worship, one of the regular ministers preached an awesome affirming message of God’s love and our value to Him. The minister’s text was the story of the Prodigal Son and his primary point was that even though the son found himself homeless, starving, stinking, and feeling absolutely worthless, he was still of ultimate value to his father! What an awesome message!
I mean, think about it. These people are homeless, sick with aids, cancer, etc. Many are addicted to drugs and alcohol, some are even demonized out of their minds with fear and pain. I’m suprised at the number of verterans who are there, men who lost their minds in the ravages of war, especially the Vietnam War.
What message do these people need to hear? Do you think that these people need to be warned of Hell? I mean, their lives are a living Hell already! Do they need to be assured that if they don’t turn from their sin, stop drinking, doing drugs, even smoking, they are going to smoke in Hell forever? Of course not! They need to be inspired by the love of God, encouraged to put their faith in Him because He loves them regardless of how the mess that they are in right now, regardless of whether or not they every get out of that mess in this life! And I’m very thankful to say that this is what the minister preached - a very powerful message about the love of God and these people’s value to Him!
After the pastor preached, we ministered in prayer to those who wanted it. They then had a drawing to give away speacial items - a “mobile home” (tent), a homemade quilt, etc. and the grand-prize, a new and very nice bycicle. After that they dismissed everyone and everyone got in line to leave and on the way out they went through the packaged food line where they could get as much food - soups, cereals, granoila bars, chips, pasteries, sodas, etc. - that they wanted and could carry with them. It was awesome!
Well, for now, I think I’m going to make this my “church” and attend every Tueday night, serving and giving to these my brothers and sisters. Next week I plan to take my children with me.