In the part one of this article I stressed the importance of being outreach-minded as a Christian. Missions outreach, or more simply put outreach to the lost with the Love of Christ, is more than just a duty we have as Christians. It is a loving response to our Lord to the love that he first showed us. Many times as Christians working in a hostile world it becomes difficult to separate ourselves from our daily distractions (school, work, etc.) and have a completely missions mindset. For this reason it’s important for us to set apart specific time that is focused entirely on ministry to grow to be effective ministers for God. This doesn’t take away our responsibility to be lights during our normal routine, but rather, it can actually help us maintain focus.
The following are just two ideas for you to put your faith into action. I had originally intended to detail ideas for a weekend or weeklong trip*, but for the sake of practicality these types of “outreaches” may be more accessible for our busy schedules.
Metro Food: Serve & Repeat
This outreach is very simple and takes few resources to throw together. It is most effective for those of you who reside in metro areas, or where there is a concentration of people that are homeless. Many of us in these areas drive by people every day waiting at street corners for someone to help them. I know many of us have given money out of guilt wishing there was some other way to help. Well, there is.
What you will need:
- Transportation: A vehicle of some sort. Theoretically, even a bike would work.
- Food supplies: These can be of your choosing, but enough to make several complete meals, including drinks, deserts, utensils, and napkins.
- A few hours: Doing this on a regular schedule works best.
How to prepare:
Organize a time when you, or you and some friends, can put together some bagged meals to pass out to individuals that may not have a meal that day. Remember to allow enough time for delivery. My wife and I have found that one of the best meals to make is spaghetti and meatballs (it’s easy to make a lot of it). You can purchase disposable plastic containers to serve it in, as well as plastic utensils to go along with it. Cook your meal, bag it up, hand-write an encouraging prayer and some scripture on a piece of paper, stick it in the bag and you are good to go!
Getting it done:
First things first, pray for opportunities. Pray that God’s Spirit would work through you and that your actions would reflect those of Christ’s.
Finding homeless people in most metro areas is generally not a difficult task. Many times you may recognize faces of people who are consistently at the same place. Visit these people and make your delivery. Drive-bys are ok, and will sometimes be the only option you have at an intersection or off-ramp. On occasion, my wife and I have had do multiple U-turns to get to a place where we can say something to the individual. A simple but true, “God loves you and hasn’t forgotten you” with the hand-off can be just enough. Parking and hand delivering can be a better option if it is safe. This can allow you to sit and chat, and even ask to pray for the individual. The key to effectiveness for this type of ministry is consistency. You may begin to build a friendship with those you are reaching out to, allowing for a great opportunity to minister.
There were some people at the college I graduated from that started a weekly event at a downtown location called “Bob’s Barbecue.” Every week they would set up a grill near a place where homeless people congregated. They would go every week and invite people to come and sit, eat hotdogs and chat about the weather, life, God, and so on. I had the chance to take part in this event once and it was amazing the relationships that the students were able to develop with some of the “Bob’s Barbecue” regulars.
Be mindful and safe in every step. If you stink at cooking, enlist the help of someone that actually can cook. If you can’t drive, find someone to help you. Finally, always make sure somebody is aware of where your going and what you’re doing. If you are still living at home, tell your parents/guardians and get their approval if necessary.
Be a Friend
Our emotional, physical, and spiritual condition can have a major effect on others, and one of the places of greatest spiritual, emotional, and physical need is your neighborhood hospital.
What you will need:
- An hour
How to Prepare:
Unless you live way out in the country, you more than likely have multiple hospital facilities within easy driving distance. Do a little research into local hospitals and find out what their specialties are. One might focus on cardiac issues while another could be pediatric oncology (cancer). I suggest you then contact the hospital and ask to speak with an individual that can help you with volunteer visiting hours. At this point you will need a plan, because you will surely be asked what it is you would like to do while visiting the hospital. To avoid wandering the halls, wondering what to do with yourself, ask the hospital staff to get some ideas and help you put your plan into motion.
Things you can do:
- Read a story at a children’s ward in a hospital, or bring games to play with them.
- A less direct approach might be simply sitting in a chapel (all hospitals have them) and praying for people.
- You can sit in a waiting room as if your waiting, but really be praying for other people that are in there, you might even be able to strike up a meaningful conversation.
- And, as I mentioned before, people at the hospital might be able to help you with ideas they know help to liven the spirits of their patients.
Getting it done:
Once again, pray for opportunities. Pray that God’s Spirit would work through you and that your actions would reflect those of Christ’s.
Make sure to call ahead and let the staff know you are coming. As in the previous idea, consistency of visits will help to increase your opportunity to build relationships and thus increase your ability to minister. Your first time might feel awkward and ineffective, but if you continue to go back, someone will take notice and a door will be opened. Remember, ministry is not based on your ability, but on the power and love of God working through you.
Hospitals are not the only place you can visit, but nursing homes as well. These can be some of the loneliest places in the world in great, great need of the love of God and His children. These scenarios can actually be even easier to arrange and carry out, because of the great lack of affection that exists in many of these places. Some of them are faith-based, and many are open to a group of students coming and singing some worship choruses.
Ministry is a privilege we have, responding to God’s love for us by serving His children. James talks about putting our faith into action, and emphasizes the point by stating that faith without works is dead. Let us rise up and serve our Lord and Savior and have the heart of Isaiah when he said, “here I am Lord send me.”
I hope this article may open a dialogue. Please feel free to respond and share your ideas for outreach.
* If you would like for longer missions projects, contact me.