For the past four years I have traveled to Haiti on mission. Each year that trip has looked differently. Since I am an ELA teacher at Hebron Middle School in Shepherdsville, I have the time, and God has always provided the resources needed. He is very clear about if I should go, where I should go and how He will provide for me to go.
God also makes another point clear to all of us: we should be living missionally every day. Our community is our mission field. We need to look at it like we do when we land in that foreign country ready to do work. Here are some things that our church Little Flock Baptist Church, and I personally are trying to do to make Jesus famous where I work, in my neighborhood and in our city.
- Provide lunch for teachers and the school children. This can be done many ways. My husband, who is the Missions’ Pastor and some wonderful men from my church, have constructed a trailer equipped with grills and everything necessary to pull off a cookout. Robert literally drives the trailer onto the school property, sets up and serves. At a recent Back to School Bash, we served around two hundred hot dogs, giving them away free. We could have given many more. We also had a Get Acquainted party this summer with our incoming 6th graders, and he did the same. Soon he will randomly provide a lunch or breakfast. Being a teacher, nothing makes you more popular than serving us free food. This may not seem like much, but think for a second like a lost person, possibly who has decided that all those church people are hypocrites. We must break down walls and build bridges. Our church doing these things has opened lots of conversations for me, with many just amazed at our generosity. They should not be amazed; we should be giving and giving and giving.
- Ask a principal if your church can partner with them and provide materials for kids or help them by having volunteers go into the classes and read to kids. I am not familiar with any principals that have said no to this. We teachers have little resources and lots to accomplish. I have had church friends just come run copies for hours. Our pastor and my husband have gone into classrooms and just read to children. Bellevue Baptist in Memphis, Tennessee has an excellent program called Arise2Read that could be an excellent resource. Since fathers are a rare commodity, the children’s responses to this are incredible and sometimes heartbreaking. Recently,when a man helped one of our students, the boy said, “This must be what it feels like to have a father.” Church, we need to fill in some gaps.
- Help with an FCA or other Christian club. Our church is providing small water bottles for the weekly FCA meetings. Besides being a resource as potential speakers, ask those sponsors other ways that you can support them. Snacks are always welcome, and food certainly attracts students.
- For those of us that have some freedom at church, consider watching for people who attend church alone. My father passed away about a year ago, so one difficult hurdle for my mom has been to attend church and sit in the service alone. I cannot be with her each week, but I now pay attention to other ladies who might be in her situation at my church. Since my husband is on staff and our daughters are grown and live in other cities, I have sat alone in services for years. God has laid on my heart a couple of ladies that now seem to be newly sitting alone. I am about to change my seat in church.
- Consider having a neighborhood cookout. Could this turn into a bible study at your house? Are you willing to do that? Are there other believers in your neighborhood who could partner with you?
There are so many more ideas of ways to build a connection between the church and your community. Unfortunately, I do not hear as many positive comments about our churches as I would like. Since our churches seem to be declining in attendance, we must work to make this better. We know that being a believer will never be popular, but we must seek constantly to make Jesus known in our communities. We must be willing to ask God to give us new ways to reach out to those who live all around us.
Think like a nonbeliever. Would you give up a weekend day to possibly dress up and go to a meeting that you are not certain that you were invited to and encounter strangers? The answer is “No”. We believers know what Christ has done for us and hopefully each week long to worship God and study His Word.
When I begin to feel overwhelmed by the lostness all around me, God reminds me that He wants me not try to save the world. I am to be obedient and start with just one person. One person at a time is my mission field. Look for your one and ask God to show you what to do. He faithfully will.
Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people Psalm 96:3