Summer Greetings to you!
Here I am in August and the summer has, once again, flown by and I can't get it back. Between work, ministry, church, kiddo activities, family planning, and not to mention having time to eat and sleep, it's safe to say that it's certainly been a busy one.
Recently, I was tasked to put together a video documentary of what the basis of the Sidewalk Outreach Ministry is for and to show what we do, as a church, to serve others. I was glad to accept that challenge because I feel that its a necessary thing to do to show others what it's all about.
My church has a team of people, and it fluctuates, but its normally about 12-15 people that join together on the first Monday of each month, which is our designated night, to join up with a sister church in order to serve the homeless, and less fortunate of OKC. This is located at a spot near downtown OKC. There are many other churches that join up with this sister church on the following Mondays but this specific first one is ours. The sister church has been actively serving in this capacity for over 14 years and for that, I am very grateful. This is such an incredible ministry because its the only one that has been consistent after all this time to serve these fine people.
It takes a full day to prep for an event like this. This particular day as what's shown in the video below is Memorial Day 2016. The day starts early and consists of making enough food to feed about 300 people. Obviously, it's a very daunting task but it's one that comes together gladly by come fine Christian ladies (and men) and they do so without a blink. I'm so thankful for them and their hearts of compassion and dedication. It doesn't go un-noticed and God will certainly not overlook it.
They plan the meal, plan the people, plan the supplies, the resources, and the time that goes into this kind of outreach of this magnitude.
Some of the duties include, and certainly are not limited to, prepping the meal, the cutting, the cooking, the placing in bags, the prepping of all bags, the soda, the ice, and the organizing of the Gospel tracts that go into each bag. Have you ever made 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in one sitting? It's definitely time consuming to say the least.
Apart from food, there has to be people that organizes and preps other items such as clothes, coats, gloves, blankets, t-shirts, underwear, socks and sweaters. You say "Sweaters in July?" Absolutely. Some parents, when you're sleeping in an open field, or a back alley, with your 3 year old child, do not have a blanket or a pillow and a sweater in the middle of the night is their only option to keep warm on those summer nights. Not to mention the winter nights when you have no shoes, socks, or even a blanket or bed.
Oh, the things we take for granted.
We also do our best to provide such things as toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpastes, dental floss, deodorants, over the counter allergy medicines and headache medicines, things that they don't have the money to walk into their own grocery store and purchase on their own.
We haven't forgot the animals either. Many nights when we are downtown, there are dogs and cats that belong to the people we're ministering too that also need fed as well. So we come prepared with a large bag of cat food, dog food, even some small animal clothes that someone may have provided the ministry.
We do all this because everyone has needs. Everyone has the needs for everyday items such as food, clothing, and shelter. Although we can't provide shelter for all people everywhere, we can provide food and clothes for all who come to our specific locations we're based at if they so desire.
However, there is an even greater need that is beyond all these other things. That need that one has is the greatest need that we all have as humans.
We need Jesus Christ.
We organize these outreaches purely for the necessity of sharing our faith in Jesus Christ. One thing I've always said, and I don't take credit for as it's a quote from Mark Cahill, is that if they're breathing, they need Jesus. Guess what, these people are living, breathing, individuals that need Jesus just like me. Tons of lost people show up to these locations. We want to give them truth. We want to give them the gospel. Since these folks may never darken the door of a church, it is the time and it is imperative that we hit them hard with truth spoken in love.
When it comes to truth, I think of the verse found in Acts.
This is our mission. This is our drive. As normal, biblical, Christians (that we all should be striving to be), this is our one duty. Some people try to say "No, you have to get to know someone first. You must build relationships with them for a very long time before we can share our faith with them. That's how you earn the right to share with them."
Sorry, I don't see it.
Where in this verse, or anywhere else in the Bible, does it tell us that we must earn the right to share our faith? Once you are a Christian, you have the right. We are compelled to share the gospel with the lost. We know hell is real, and it is our responsibility to try and stop all people from going there.
When Jesus tells us to follow Him and He will make us fishers of men, He means it. You don't have the option to not do so.
When Jesus says He came to seek and save those who are lost, then it is also our responsibility to do the same.
When Jesus witnessed to the woman at the well, did He get her water first before He earned the right to share the gospel with her?
When Jesus was talking with the rich young ruler, did he help him with his stock portfolio before He shared eternal truth with him?
And what nice things was Stephen going to do for the people that were stoning him, because he was telling them about seeing Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father? Should he have asked them if he could wash off their rocks first, before they threw them at him?
When the Jews were having Paul arrested in Acts 21 and Paul got a chance to preach to the crowd, should he have handed out Skittles, given away free concert tickets, or washed their cars before he shared the truth of Jesus Christ with them?
Absolutely not. Hogwash and balderdash is all I can think of. One more time we are being duped by what people say instead of listening to what God tells us. As one guy said, if you were at the World Trade Center on September 10th, and you knew all those people would die the next day, what would you say to them? It doesn’t seem like to me that you would have had a lot of time to get them to like you, or to do a bunch of nice things for them. If you really want lost people to love you, then give up Christianity and go and find another faith to believe in.
Followers of Christ take the commands of Christ seriously. They take the Great Commission seriously. And that takes dying to yourself, your wants, your needs, your desires, and sharing the Gospel with others.
Whether it be in the form of one to one conversations, the distribution of Gospel tracts, open air preaching, or even proclaiming these truths from a pulpit of your own church, it should be a message proclaimed to all people.
If they're breathing, they need Jesus.
I was able to create this video, and show it in its entirety, to my own church body recently. Alot of people simply did not know what all went on in this particular ministry that our church is actively involved in. My goal in this video was to give an overview, from start to finish, as to what it's really all about.
I hope God blesses you through it and because of it. Every time I see it, I see the urgency is greater and greater for Christians to just be Christians and serve others more and more in this day and age as it's getting pretty dark outside. Oh, gloriously dark.
Stand up Christian. Get up, get out, and share your faith. We don't have a lot of time left.
Until the nets are full,
And by the way, how can you keep the most important thing in your life away from someone that you know? That would be the definition of selfish. Please be selfless in the coming days as you reach the lost, and not selfish.