Thursday, February 19, 2009

Friendship and Urban Ministry

I received my copy of the monthly devotional magazine Our Daily Bread for the month of April today. While looking through it, I found the article for April 1 by Anne Cetas. It reminded me of why the Contact Church has been such an effective urban ministry. This is the article:

"Servant-Friendship

"'We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children' (1 Thessalonians 2:7, New King James Version).

"Don Tack wanted to know what life was like for homeless people. So he concealed his identity and went to live on the streets of his city. He found out that food and shelter were offered by many organizations. At one shelter he could spend the night if he listened to a sermon beforehand. He appreciated the guest speaker's message and wanted to talk with him afterward. But as Don reached out to shake the man's hand and asked if he could talk with him, the speaker walked right past him as if he didn't exist.

"Don learned that what was missing most in ministry to the homeless in his area were people who were willing to build relationships. So he began an organization called Servants Center to offer help through friendship.

"What Don encountered at the shelter was the opposite of what the people who heard the apostle Paul experienced. When he shared the gospel, he gave himself too. He testified in his letter to the Thessalonians, 'We were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us' (1 Thessalonians 2:8, New King James Version). He said, 'We were gentle among you,' like a mother (v. 7).

"In our service for the Lord, do we share not just words or money but our time and friendship?

"One measure of our likeness to Christ is our sensitivity to the suffering of others."

More devotionals from Our Daily Bread may be found at www.rbc.org.

3 comments:

jennie said...

Greetings Terry,

It is SUCH an encouragement to read about your heart for the poor. My name is Jennie Keeran, I usually live in Vancouver, BC. I have a google alert for- "church of Christ" + homeless -so your blog came up.

I wanted to let you know about a project we've been doing for the last 4 years and invite you to participate too:

This is an invitation for your congregation to participate in a project to help homeless people in your community while bringing close fellowship between members of your group with a lasting, powerful spiritual experience enacting God’s love for the poor. For the last 4 years, churches of Christ in several cities have been undertaking this project, leading the way for the community to make direct personal connections and heart-felt, personal donations to individual homeless people.

It costs nothing and results in maximum encouragement for the church, the community, local shelters and the homeless. Thousands of gifts have been collected for the homeless and it’s a great encouragement for Christians to see their church members on TV and in the newspapers, showing the community a safe and effective way to help the poor. And best of all, God gets the glory. The project makes a statement to the community that His church is “doing” God’s love – “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
We encourage you to please consider taking on this project in your congregation.
This is a basic description of the project:
1. Working with a local shelter, church members interview the homeless or leave interview forms for the homeless to fill out, at the shelter.
2. Then church members type those interviews on to the website: www.homelesspartners.com – access to the website is free of charge
3. Then the church sends out press releases to local news outlets and/or holds press conferences so that the media will cover it as a news story. The project’s spokesperson, from the congregation, conducts interviews with newspaper, TV and radio for the purpose of driving traffic to the website. Community members read the stories and bond with their personal stories.
4. Then they deliver the personalized gifts directly to the shelters, who distribute them personally to the homeless people.

Please feel free to go to www.homelesspartners.com and read some of the stories from last year and be sure to look at the “thank yous” from the recipients- they’re really an inspiration. Community members can also get information about your congregation’s programs at the website. High School classes will often accept a presenter from the church to talk about the project, bringing God's love to the classroom by invitation.
Even elementary and Sunday school children can be involved by drawing personal cards and letters to individuals on the website – they’re real heart-melters.
To get more information on the project you can also go to www.youtube and use the search terms “homeless partners” to see a 2 minute video. We can also send you additional materials including a manual that covers details of the project.
If there is a particular group or person in your congregation who have this special interest, please pass this on to them.
And please let me know if your group is interested. We will be praying for your decision.
Peace and Grace,
Jennie Keeran

ps you can also see a video that was aired on national Canadian tv this last year: (the guy is my husband, Dan)
http://video.aol.com/video-detail/latest-homeless-for-the-holidays-canada-am-daniel-keeran-homelesspartnercom-on-helping-the-homeless-during-the-holidays/3182893732/?icid=VIDURVNWS08

westcoastwitness.com said...

Thanks for posting - a friend of mine talked about growing his hair out and living on the street for a while just to see what it was like. Actually - you know him - it was Anthony Wood.

I don't think he ever got around to doing that, and am sure he won't now (he just got married).

I wonder if he heard of this guy though.

Thanks for sharing :)

Terry said...

Jennie,
Thanks for the information. I will be looking into it soon. I think I read about your project in the Christian Chronicle some time ago. I appreciate your concern for the homeless. Keep up the good work!

Wes,
Thanks for the comment. Yes, I know Anthony. He has spoken at the Contact Church a couple of times. In fact, he spoke at our appreciation dinner last spring for supporters of the urban ministry. He sat at our table, so we were able to visit a little during the dinner. (I'm not sure he would remember me, but I enjoyed getting to know him a little better.) He was the co-author of one of my favorite books on urban ministry, "Up Close and Personal: Embracing the Poor." He just might know the guy mentioned in the article.