Imitating the ministry of Jesus.
In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the tremendous assistance provided by churches was inspiring to say the least. While the need is no longer making front-page news, our communities—both large and small—are being ravaged by poverty and hunger.
There are so many opportunities and ways in which your group can help the vulnerable and poor in your community. By turning your group’s attention to the needy in your area, you will not only help your young adults to look beyond their own lives, but you will also be imitating the ministry of Jesus
• Inspire your group.
Challenge the way your young adults think by telling them stories of the needs right in their community. Read Matthew 25:31-46 (Sheep and the Goats) and Mark 8:1-10 (Jesus Feeds the 4,000) and motivate your group to be involved in providing food for the needy of your area.
• Form a partnership with organizations. Contact organizations (such as the ones below) to see what areas your group can contribute to. Doing this will ensure that your group is in touch with real needs and avoids unnecessary duplication of services to the poor.
• Organize a food drive for your community. Get your group members to organize a focussed campaign to fill the local food bank. Advertise your food drive to the community, collect the food at your church facility, sort it and deliver it to the local food bank. You can also take part in other kinds of drives, such as clothing or toy drives, as the local needs require.
• Run a vacation Bible camp, tutor program or recreational ministry in a lower-income area of your community. Often local organizations struggle to help feed local families in need. As a result, recreational activities for the children in these families are often limited, due to the low income of the families. Organize a fun day for local kids. Run a sports league out of a local school gym. Set up a program for local school kids to receive free tutoring and mentorship. Have a neighborhood-wide water war in the summer. Play with the children.
• Visit with community members in their homes and record their perspectives. After gaining permission from families and individuals, have your young adults sit down with poorer members of the community. Have the members of the community tell their stories to your young adults. Interview them, record them and publish them for the local church and community. Through this experience, your young adults’ eyes will be opened to the needs of people in the community, and the poor in your community will have a voice in the life of the community.
www.salvationarmyusa.org: The home for the Christian organization known for its work with the poor. Check their site regularly for opportunities to get your group involved in helping out.
www.national.unitedway.org/myuw: Website for finding the local United Way organization in your community. Once you find the local United Way chapter, they can point you in the right direction for getting your young adults involved in meaningful community ministry.
www.redcross.org: The website for the Red Cross primarily focuses on disaster relief. Your group can respond to local and national disasters through the Red Cross’ efforts and campaigns.