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:
"'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.