the weblog of Alan Knox

Serving through Relationship

Posted by on Dec 27, 2008 in community, fellowship, love, service | 5 comments

Last summer, our family began spending time in a government assisted housing development in our area. This service began after a conversation with a friend who lives in that neighborhood. She had often asked us to pray for and help her neighbors. After talking with her, I asked if she thought it would be a good idea for us to start spending time in her neighborhood. She thought it was a good idea, and she said she would introduce us to her neighbors.

We had a simple plan when we started. We wanted to help the people physically, but we also wanted to begin building relationships with them. So, that first Saturday, we stopped by a local farmer’s market and bought $25 worth of vegetables and fruit and placed the produce in five small bags. As our friend introduced us to some of her neighbors that morning, we would give them a bag of produce, and ask them about themselves.

From the beginning, some of the people were very open to us. Others were suspicious. They are accustomed to nameless and faceless Christian groups and agencies coming in and giving stuff to nameless and faceless “poor people”. Often they are given “stuff” that they do not need – stuff like old bread, rotting produce, or cakes, cookies, and pies. Instead, we brought in fresh produce (only a little) and sat or stood with the people, talked with them, and got to know them.

Again, we did not have any other agenda. We had no plans going forward. Why? Because we did not know the people yet. We did not know what they needed. We did not know what God was going to do.

Over the last few months, other friends and families have started spending time in this neighborhood with us. By the time the farmer’s market closed in November, we were taking produce to 8 families every week. Also, we often took fresh baked (baked that morning) bread (made from freshly ground wheat) to the families.

But, more importantly, we’ve gotten to know many of the people who live in that neighborhood, and they have gotten to know us. They call us to check on us, and we call them to check on them. Even the people who were once suspicious because of past experiences with Christian groups have become good friends. We love each other… we say that we love each other… and we show that we love each other.

Besides visiting with them on Saturdays, we’ve had other opportunities to serve the people in the neighborhood. We sang Christmas carols in the neighborhood a few weeks ago. We had the opportunity to help one lady pay her utility bill. We’ve taken several elderly neighbors to doctor’s appointments, or visited them in the hospital, or even brought them home from the hospital. We tutored a single mother who is finishing her degree from a community college. We’ve provided furniture. We’ve taken meals to people who were sick. We bought toys for the neighborhood children for Christmas. We raked leaves.

We did all of these things because we love the people and we want to demonstrate the love of Christ to them. In fact, the reason that we were able to do these things is because we took the time to get to know them in the first place.

Let me repeat that: THE REASON THAT WE WERE ABLE TO SHOW THIS NEIGHBORHOOD THE LOVE OF CHRIST IS THAT WE TOOK THE TIME TO GET TO KNOW THEM FIRST. I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to shout. But, statements like this are often overlooked.

As I finish this post, I encourage you to start spending time with people – both with people you already “know” and people you do not know. You will find that God gives you opportunities to serve and demonstrate his love through those relationships. It won’t be easy. It will often be messy. But, it will be real.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-27-2008

    hey, it is okay to scream at times and the screaming at times is necessary.

    i was reminded of this on christmas day. we opened our church building for a dinner on christmas and as i sat down with a few of the folks that i did not know .. i was reminded of that as i got to know robbie, jimmie, paul and sandie.

    so, thanks ….

  2. 12-27-2008

    I have a friend who goes most Saturday mornings to spend some time with the homeless in Ft. Worth. Getting to know them,loving on them.

    What he enjoys the most now is when others come in to meet the homeless, he is often mistaken for a homeless man. His new friends down there get such a kick out of that.

    He built relationships first. As he told me, these folks have heard the gospel more times than you and I can ever say it. He is their friend first, and a Christian ministering to them second.

  3. 12-27-2008


    We tend to forget that we have to earn the right to share our faith with people.

    As you have rightly discerned, no one owes us the privilege of showing Christ to them by our words unless our actions speak first.

    As for shouting…it is needed some times. Many who claim to be Christian suffer from selective deafness.

  4. 12-27-2008


    Praise God for people like Robbie, Jimmie, Paul, and Sandie! I pray God gives you many more opportunities to get to know them and to help them to know him in the coming year!


    Yes. Our friends have heard the gospel and they have seen the gospel at work in our lives. They don’t have to ask if we actually believe what we say.

    Aussie John,

    “Selective deafness”… yes. It goes along with “selective Bible reading”.


  5. 12-29-2008

    There are those who say that the Gospel should be proclaimed by a preacher in a church, but based on what I have seen, this is the best way to “preach” the Gospel, and is best accepted by the most people. However, it does take more time and effort on our part. Learning to love people, especially those who don’t look like us, may indeed be Christ working in us.