Posted by: Harry Sasnowitz | January 20, 2016

Something You’ll Never Experience in Church

If you’ve ever attended Sunday morning services at religious institutions, participated in spiritual conferences or have tuned into “worship services” via TV or radio, I have a question to ask you. Have you ever witnessed a pastor, evangelist, missionary, teacher, apostle, prophet or any other person involved in ministry TURN DOWN a willing cash offering from a community of believers?

In my 25 years as a Christ-follower, I sure haven’t….until a recent Sunday evening.

I had about a dozen friends over at my place to meet and hear from a gentleman who started a homeless ministry here in Raleigh a few years ago. Teams of people are consistently going into the woods to seek out those that are homeless, living in tents and part of a growing number of “homeless camps” in and around our city. The mission is to show them love, provide nutritious food, provide other necessary supplies, to have conversations with them and get to know them, to share the word of the gospel if and when appropriate, and to help them find useful resources if they desire to change their situation. It was an incredible evening as we heard how God was using ordinary people in powerful ways to bring real help and hope to these homeless folks.

At the end of the evening, everyone was prepared to sow a generous financial seed into this ministry.

But the gentleman TURNED US DOWN COLD!

His explanation? Let me paraphrase what he said:

“Typically, the American Church’s way of dealing with issues like this is to ‘throw money at it.’ It’s easy to write a check as a means to ease one’s conscience… to tell ourselves that we’ve done our part. But to actually be personally invested and relationally engaged in the life of another who’s in great need is an entirely different story. So, instead of giving me money to do more of what I’ve been doing, I want you to keep your money. Use it to perhaps put together some care packages with basic necessities that homeless folks would find helpful. Carry them in your car. And next time you see a homeless person holding a sign, or a tent in the woods near a familiar roadway, pull over. Approach the person and personally give the care package, and most importantly, initiate a conversation. Get to know this individual; speak words of encouragement. What these people need is not so much our money, but us.”

In all my years of doing the “church thing,” sitting under “this pastor or that minister or this evangelist” etc…., I have never experienced someone “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry” as authentically and powerfully as this man. And he has no formal title of Pastor, Bishop, Apostle….. no “denominational credentials” or Bible school background. Nope. Just a regular guy who’s hearing from God, doing what He says, and encouraging other Christ followers to action by helping them to see themselves for who they really are: a living manifestation of the life and love of Jesus to humanity….. especially to the weakest among us.

This is love. This is discipleship. This is “the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.”

 

 

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