The third attribute of a disciple that Logan and Ridley list in The Discipleship Difference is SACRIFICIAL SERVICE.
One of the specific behaviors associated with this dimension of discipleship is “Ministering personally and appropriately to the poor.” (The Discipleship Difference, p. 29)
I’ve asked my wife Ellen to share with us this week some of the things she has learned from years of serving the poor:
Serving the poor is a hallmark of the Vineyard churches. In fact, Phil Strout who is the national director in the USA told a story of meeting with John Wimber for the first time. When Phil asked if he could use the name Vineyard, John said, “Don’t use the name Vineyard unless you help the poor.”
Isaiah 58:6-7 says,
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? ”
Ministry to the poor has been very fruitful in my life. Ever since the 1990’s, I have set out to serve the poor every Saturday. I realized that going to the mall really wasn’t my thing. I would rather spend my time giving to the poor in my spare time. I have found that it helps me concentrate on things that really matter and as I meet with people to pray for them, they also bless me.
I have also found that if I share my needs, they are faithful to pray for me. When our son was going through a divorce, I shared about it with the girls at the women’s shelter, and they regularly prayed for him and asked me how he was doing. This was quite a humbling experience.
I had them pray for my daughter when she was about to deliver each of her babies, and when my mother passed away, they prayed for my loss. As I shared my pain, they could relate to that and how I drew near to God for comfort. I was teaching by example and they really responded.
I also had the privilege to disciple many young women in the faith. I cherished these times together each week. I also encouraged others at the Vineyard to get involved with them. Two girls got their counseling degrees to help them more and another one is working there full time now with a heart for abused women.
Two times girls found a husband and had no money for a wedding. I spoke to my friends at the vineyard and we gave them free weddings at the church with volunteers cooking cleaning, decorating, donating dresses, playing music, singing, buying flowers, and doing anything else that was needed. They were such joyous occasions that I will never forget giving free gifts of love to strangers.
I would like to encourage you to get involved in an organization in your community and invite others in your group to give to the poor on a regular basis. This way they become friends and not just a project. Remember God will reward you for any act of kindness you give in His name to the poor.
QUESTION: WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE FOR YOU TO BEGIN SERVING THE POOR IN YOUR COMMUNITY?