7 Simple Ways to Meet Big Needs

Caring for the needy doesn't have to be overwhelming.

We live in a world with overwhelming humanitarian needs: 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 per day, 1.1 billion people lack access to potable water, 19 million people in America are considered “working poor” and a child dies of hunger every 5 seconds.

With so many needs, where do we even begin? Does helping just one person really matter? 

The answer is found in Matthew 25:40, where Jesus says, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

One really does matter. You can help the needy around you in practical, creative ways. Whether it’s across the street, across the church pew or across the world, all of us have the power to reach just one needy person.

Create “bags of hope”

A great way to make sure you’re always ready when you encounter someone in need is to have a few “bags of hope” on hand. These are simply plastic bags filled with items that a person in need could use. Bags of hope include but are not limited to trial-size toiletries, snacks, water bottles and small Bibles. Making these bags and putting them in your car will ensure that you are always ready to help someone in need.

You can also have your Sunday school class, Bible study group or other ministry organization donate items and gather together to make the bags. When you’ve finished putting the bags together, distribute them among group members. Make this a fun night for your group by having everyone bring a snack to share, or maybe host a cookout at your house. After eating, as you fellowship together with friends, you can fill your Bags of Hope.

Give a baby shower for a crisis pregnancy center

Hosting a baby shower can replenish the shelves at a crisis center that gives supplies away regularly. Much like a traditional baby shower, start by sending invitations with the date and time of the event and a brief explanation of the purpose of the shower. Be sure to include the center’s name that will benefit from the gifts. The shower can take place at any location, but if you plan to have a large shower, you may want to use your church building. Check with your church office or pastor about the church’s availability.

Be sure to ask the crisis pregnancy center in your area for specific needs they may have. Most centers need the following: diapers, baby wipes, car seats, cribs, crib bedding sets, crib mattresses, infant clothing, high chairs, bouncy seats, diaper bags, blankets, bottles, baby shampoos and lotions, maternity clothes, infant swings, infant formula and safety items such as outlet covers. Items can be new or gently used.

Donate business suits that can be worn for job interviews

Many charities give donated business clothing to those who need it. Often, these charities and ministries also help with interview skills, résumé-writing and job placement. Creating opportunities for men and women to better themselves through employment is a priority for these charities.

There are several places you can donate your gently used business suits. Items that are typically needed for men and women are suits, dress shirts, blazers, shoes, belts, dress scarves, ties, overcoats, new black or brown socks, briefcases, portfolios, dress pants, watches, tie clips and cuff links. Look into donating to one of the following: Men’s Warehouse Suit Drives, Dress for Success, Career Gear or the American Red Cross.

Take meals to a sick person and his or her family

If someone you know is having surgery or a baby, consider asking your small group, co-workers or friends to bring frozen meals to one location. Then put them all in a cooler and let one person deliver them. Write encouraging notes to the recipient to let that person know you are thinking of him or her and praying for recovery. The recipient will be thrilled to receive the meals and can rest without having to “visit” night after night when a meal is delivered. New moms may benefit from a “frozen casserole shower” even more than a traditional baby shower.

If you decide to minister to a family by taking them a meal, be sure to leave a note explaining exactly what the ingredients are and how they should prepare or warm the food.

Rock babies at the NICU of your local hospital

Nearly every major city has a hospital that encourages volunteers to rock babies in their neonatal intensive care unit. If you would like to volunteer, you will likely have to take a class. Your instructor will teach you the hospital rules and regulations as well as how to hold, bottle-feed, pat and soothe hospitalized sick babies. To sign up for training, call the hospital and ask for the volunteer coordinator. Most hospitals offer the class free of charge. You may need to be tested for tuberculosis and pass a background check to qualify as a volunteer.

Write notes of encouragement to inmates

Many wonderful ministries, such as International Network of Prison Ministries and Write-Way Prison Ministries, can put you in touch with a prisoner who wants to correspond. You can also contact a prison in your area, ask for a prison chaplain, and speak to him or her about how to write to an inmate. At www.writeaprisoner.com, you can search for a prisoner pen pal through a state or federal search engine. At www.prisoneralert.com, you can click on “Write an encouraging letter” to reach a prisoner in a foreign country who is incarcerated due to his or her stand for Christ.

Paint or decorate an emergency foster care placement room

Nearly every county, whether large or small, has some type of social services department that works directly with foster children. They will likely welcome any work you are willing to donate. Contact your local office and ask if you can spruce up their emergency foster care placement room. It should take only one day to complete the room if you plan ahead of time, especially if you recruit a team of helpers.

The walls of the room will likely need to be painted. Hang colorful pictures on the wall or, better yet, if you know an artist, have him or her paint a mural on the walls of the room. Toys serve as a distraction for children, so place a few nice baskets of new toys in the room. A basket of reading books will also be appropriate, as well as a basket of art supplies, such as drawing paper, crayons, colored pencils, coloring books, markers and modeling clay.

Becoming Christlike in caring for the needy will challenge you, and at times it may force you to lay down everything you have. It may take all of your resources, all of your money, all of your time ... it may very well take everything.

But isn’t that what Jesus Christ did for you? He gave everything He had to ransom you and set you free. And after all, one day soon everything of earthly value will fade from view. Only what you have done for Christ will remain. It really is that simple.

A Cup of Cold Water in His Name, © 2012 by Lorie Newman. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512. All rights reserved.

12 Comments

85,364

Jeremy Deal commented…

I did something like this last Sunday that God put upon my heart. Instead of going to service like normal, I walked around the city I live in passing out juice, granola bars, chips, waterand socks to the homeless out of my backpack. For3 hourswalking in the rain passing this stuff out was great and I plan on doing it again.I walked the unbeaten path where no one goes.

85,364

CS commented…

Great list! I would add to it though:

8) Go to a local homeless shelter and just talk to people. Get to know someone you'd never normally meet and be open and honest.

9) Learn about what the church teaches on different social justice issues (http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-a....

10) Write letters to local, state, and national government officials about issues affecting the Church and the dignity of all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

85,364

Anonymous commented…

Such great ideas.
The greatest part about this article is that I'm sure there will be people who will be helped today and in the future as a direct result.

85,364

Sweetpeabd3 commented…

How wonderful these ideas are. Yes, 1 person can make all the difference in another person, persons or families life. I know from experience and I plan on paying it forward as often as I can. My ultimate goal in life is to be Christ like. I know how difficult and daunting a task this will be but nothing else on earth is more important than Jesus. He has loved me no matter what. He has protected me and basically carried me through life so far. It's the least I can do to be a good testimony.

Samantha Thompson

6

Samantha Thompson commented…

One idea I just had: provide transportation for those who either cannot afford a car or whose car has broken down. Either give the person a ride or give them money for a cab, bus, train, etc. If you end up giving the person a ride, you could form a new friendship and open up a way to share the gospel or strengthen the faith of someone who is already a Christian. This would be a great ministry/outreach for a church too. They could create a group of "transportation angels" with a website and telephone number which people in the community could use to get in touch with someone if they need a ride.

As someone who has personally benefited from the great kindness of friends and co-workers in this area, I know how vital having transportation is. It can be nerve-wracking when your car breaks down and you do not have the money to fix it. How are you supposed to get the money to fix it if you cannot get to work? In providing a service like this, the church would be providing for a vital need, as well as showing the world a practical picture of salvation.

Please log in or register to comment

Log In