As we look at the mission field, we must look through the compassionate eyes of Jesus.
We’re not looking at a target group or mere statistics; we’e looking at real people. They may have given up on church and religion, but they’e open to those who follow Christ and show the love and sympathy of their Master.
And if we’e going to minister to needs, we need to know what those needs are. We need to study our communities. What are people reading, what are they watching, what are they listening to? How do they spend their spare time? What’s causing them pain? What’s bringing them joy?
A few years ago Wayne Krause, the pastor of a church near Sydney, Australia, discovered that some students were arriving at the local public school each day without breakfast. He presented the challenge to his church, and soon the church members were providing food to these hungry kids. Later, when the school decided to hire a chaplain, they turned to the Adventist church. Today Rochelle Madden serves as the school’s chaplain.
“I see my role as chaplain to be a window to Jesus,” says Rochelle. “ want the students, parents, and teachers to see a Christian as someone who really cares about them and what’s going on in their lives.”
Seventh-day Adventists should make cities better places. Are people hungry? Let’s feed them. Are immigrants struggling to adapt? Let’ help them. Does a city park need a clean up? Let’s roll up our sleeves.
In the book of Jeremiah God instructed the Jewish exiles how to live when they got to Babylon: “ut seek the welfare [shalom] of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for its welfare [shalom] and you will find your welfare [shalom]” (Jeremiah 29:7, NIV).
The Hebrew word shalom conveys thoughts of peace, well-being, and prosperity. God is urging the exiles to work and pray for the good of the city. We must do the same today.
Jesus modeled a wholistic ministry that balanced the spiritual and the physical: “esus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness” (Matthew 9:36, NIV). We should use Christ’s ministry as our example and care for physical as well as spiritual needs.
Adapted from Adventist World; used with permission. Gary Krause is director of Adventist Mission at the General Conference. The first part of this article appeared in the fourth quarter, 2011, “Inside Stories.”