Today, I want to encourage you all to put a time in your schedule to go out on mission in your neighborhood each week. Seize opportunities to befriend strangers and give them time to ask you questions about your faith. Tell them about answers to prayer and things you are thankful to God for. Notice people as you do your errands, and offer to pray for people. It will change your life.
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.
- What do we learn about God?
- What do we learn about people?
- How can we obey this passage?
- Who needs to hear this?
I have made it a habit to spend my Saturday mornings helping the poor, being with strangers, practicing showing God’s love in practical ways wherever I live. These have been very special times for me and it stretches me to be other oriented, to love people that are different, and to use my spiritual gifts to help people.
In the 1990s in Atlanta, we would go out to a government housing project with bags of groceries. We would knock on doors with bags of food, and offer to pray for people. Many people were in desperate circumstances and they welcomed us into their homes. We went each week touching different people, praying for them, and we learned their names. We tried to do special things for them around the holidays and helped with school supplies, etc. We gave shoe boxes of gifts for the kids at Christmas time. We did this with our small children each week to also give them a heart for the poor, along with a team from our local Vineyard church.
In Delhi, from 2005 to 2010, I went out each Saturday to a Catholic shelter to do a kids program. I brought a team with me from the Vineyard we were planting there. This shelter also took in people off of the street and we frequently prayed for the sick while we were there. One time during one of our discipleship trainings, on a prayer walk, some of the students noticed a man on the sidewalk. They took him to a government hospital nearby, helped care for him and then we took him to this shelter so he could fully recover before we gave him a bus ticket to return to his village.
That was so exciting because it was making the Good Samaritan story come to life for some of our new believers! (Luke 10:25-37).
In Bangalore, from 2010 to 2015, I got involved in a women’s shelter for women escaping from domestic violence. I also brought a team with me from the local Vineyard church we were planting there. There were usually around 15 women and about a dozen kids. We discipled them and prayed for them each Saturday. We did the Alpha course with them, taught them how to keep journals of what God was speaking to them, how to read the Bible and hear God’s voice from different passages, and shared our lives with them. We even helped them find some support for the rent of the home.
Now, in Chicago, I have been part of a team from the Hyde Park Vineyard doing Healing on the Streets on a desperate corner on the Southside of Chicago. Each week, for the last two and a half years, we have gone to the same corner, praying for the sick and the poor. We serve coffee and tea and give out bibles and children’s storybook bibles. We have seen many healings there and are quite close to the team members we go with.
So, I challenge you to make a habit of going out into your neighborhood and loving the poor.
I also do prayer walks in my neighborhood, and am also considering doing another Healing on the Streets corner on the Northside of Chicago one day.
What is Jesus challenging you to do?
What time during the week can you commit to making a habit of caring for the poor?