Recently, on Sunday mornings, we have been asking people to share how God is using them to serve people – both other believers and also unbelievers. We do this for several reasons, two of which include 1) giving people examples of service to follow and 2) giving people opportunities to serve. Yesterday, it was my family’s turn to share how God has been using us to serve. I haven’t shared all of this on my blog before, so I thought I would share what we have been doing on Saturday mornings.
First, I want to explain a few things that led up to this. Several months ago, we took part in a ministry to children one Saturday morning. Several people from different churches gather together at a community center in a government housing project to play with the children, feed them lunch, and share a Bible story. The people there were building relationships with the children, but they were not finding it as easy to build relationships with their parents.
Second, a friend of ours noticed that many groups bring left over food – old food from grocery stores and old cakes and cookies – to some of the poorer sections of our town. After talking with one of the residents, my friend found out that these groups rarely interact with the people; they simply left the food. And, unfortunately, the food was rarely healthy.
Taking these two events into account, we decided that we wanted to serve in a way that we could provide healthy food for people, and in a way that we could begin to build relationships with both adults and children. So, on Saturday mornings, we stop by a local farmers market and buy some fresh fruit and vegetables. We don’t spend alot of money. As a matter of fact, our family has set aside $25 per week. This allows us to buy enough produce for 5 small bags. When other people join us, if they decide to buy some produce as well, we put more in the bags and/or we prepare more bags. We usually buy beans, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, peaches, grapes, apples, oranges, or plums. Occasionally, a friend of ours has baked fresh bread for us to take as well.
We then take these bags of produce to the neighborhood where one of our friends lives. This is very important. Since the people know her, and since she often introduces us, we’ve found that we can get to know people better. We offer the bags of produce to her neighbors with no strings attached. We tell them that we have some fresh fruits and vegetables, and ask if they would like a bag. We don’t announce ourselves as part of any church or group, we are simply Alan, Margaret, Jeremy, and Miranda wanting to serve our friend’s neighbors.
We have only been doing this for a couple of months, and already we have begun to build relationships with many of the adults in the neighborhood. Often they invite us into their homes where we sit and talk for a few minutes. Once we get to know them, we talk about spiritual issues. For those who are believers, we try to help one another grow in maturity in Christ, and we pray for one another.
We have talked about addiction, sickness, loneliness, work situations, education, reading and understanding Scripture, surgery, children and child care, death, friendship, and church. In other words, the people are already opening up to us as they see that we are not trying to get anything out of them. Instead, we come by because we care about them.
As a side benefit, we have also started building a relationship with the lady who runs the farmers market stand. She asked us why we buy so much produce, and we’ve explained what we’re doing. There is always the possibility that we could get a better price or a better selection at another stand, but now I feel like I would be neglecting another opportunity that God has given me.
We’ve been able to touch about eight or ten houses in this neighborhood. This is probably only about one third of the houses. However, God does not call us to do everything. Instead, he calls us to use what he’s given us. Right now, this is what he’s given us. It would be very easy to start organizing and become more efficient and forget the reason that we’re there. I never want to lose the one on one contact with the people.
I am not sharing this with you to brag about what we’re doing. Instead, I’m sharing this in order to encourage those who may not know how to serve others. Perhaps you don’t know how to reach out to “the least” in your community. If you live near Wake Forest, NC, send me an email and I’ll be glad to help you get started.
I am also sharing this for those who are serving but who may sometimes feel that they are the only ones who care. Be encouraged! There are others who are serving alongside of you. God is at work in many, many ways in our communities.
Finally, I’m sharing this for the many seminary students who read my blog. Attending seminary is not a ministry. If you are not serving people, then you may need to check your priorities. You do not demonstrate God’s love by reading books and writing papers. It may be time for you to start getting your hands dirty.
How is God using you to serve people?