It has been several weeks since I last posted; a lot has happened in the last four weeks. And as I ponder the events of February, I am both challenged and encouraged even as I grieve the sudden death of a friend and faithful worker at Forest Park Ministry Center. Mr. Fred had a massive heart attack while working at the center the first week of February, and went to be with Jesus within 24 hours. His last act on earth was serving in Christ’s name those who are oppressed and impoverished, just as we are commanded to do in God’s Word. Even in his death, there have been opportunities to share Christ, since he was well known by other volunteers and guests of the center alike. Many guests have asked about him and have needed to process his death – and it has led to several conversations about God’s timing for each of our lives. Now is the time to insure that we have a relationship with Christ – we do not need to procrastinate!
Which brings me to this week. I am currently at a retreat and conference with many others who are in community ministry in communities all over Alabama. Our topic of study this week is “When Helping Hurts”, and we are evaluating and praying about how to most effectively assist others in the way that Christ would – especially in light of the fact that we are to be His hands and feet to others in this world where we reside!
We have learned that three types of assistance are generally given to those identified as “poor”, living in poverty. These are relief – meaning emergency assistance; rehabilitation – meaning a restoration of the positive aspects of life that existed before a person found themselves in poverty; and development – which requires relationship and mentoring, walking alongside someone as they seek to make life change.
Seems a no brainer – even though we seek to help people in crisis by giving emergency assistance (and those who are in situational poverty because of job loss, grave illness, natural disaster, or some other temporary state may even be able to rehabilitate after needed emergency assistance) – a large number of those who visit our center need life change. A relationship with Christ, first and foremost, and an understanding of what it means to be responsible and honor Him through wise decisions and good stewardship – and that takes development.
I pray that through the Layette Ministry, through M&M’s Bible study, through individual and group counseling that we plan to offer, that we will be more diligent and faithful to be relational as we seek to reach out to people who are ready to make life changing decisions to follow Christ and his precepts for life. And I pray for eyes to see the small steps taken as celebration and the missteps with mercy. I pray that because I know that Jesus looks at my own missteps with mercy, and I must do no less for those to whom I minister.
I am only halfway through the study, and look forward to learning action steps to take for more effective ministry. There has been so much food for thought and conviction that I need to take it all in, process it, and pray a lot over it! I will post later as I learn more.
Leaning and learning,
Donna McCullough, Director
Forest Park Ministry Center