Serving Like Jesus

Imagine your entire church congregation going on a mission trip together—men and women of all ages from senior citizens to small children. That’s what more two hundred people from my church body did last weekend, and it was amazing!  Serving on a mission trip has long been on my “bucket list” but time and financial constraints never allowed it—until now. Where did we go? Not to a far flung, exotic locale, but to a place where our help was needed just as badly: our own community.
Serving, 2013-10-07
The idea for a church-wide mission trip began nearly five years ago in the middle of the recession when our congregation asked the question, how can we follow Christ’s command to demonstrate love and to serve as He did? “I am among you as one who serves,” Jesus said, and He put His words into actions by washing His disciples’ feet, one of the lowliest, unsung menial tasks there is.  We decided to serve the people in our own community who had fallen on hard times—and the idea for S.O.N. Weekend—Serving Our Neighbors—was born.
son logo  Our leadership team worked with the local director of Social Services, compiling a list of more than twenty needy families, many of them senior citizens, who needed a compassionate, helping hand. We did little jobs such as painting and house cleaning and yard work, fixing leaking faucets and ceiling fans, cleaning gutters and doing general household repairs. And we tackled bigger jobs, supervised by the experts in our congregation, such as repairing roofs, installing replacement windows, and building a wheelchair ramp. Children from our congregation worked alongside their parents, and it’s been wonderful to see that our teens and young people are always among the most enthusiastic workers, and the first to volunteer. They’ve discovered the joy of giving, expecting nothing in return.
WP_000905 Of course, not everyone in our multi-generational congregation can do this kind of physical labor but there is still a job for everyone. Members are needed to prepare a light meal for us on Friday night, to make and deliver lunches to all the work crews on Saturday, and to prepare breakfast for the congregation and our guests on Sunday. Other members are part of the care-giving teams who spend Saturday visiting with the people we serve and praying with them. Still others take care of the youngest children in the nursery so their parents can serve. Even home-bound members join in by praying for S.O.N. Weekend activities, donating money for expenses, and creating these beautiful gift baskets that went to each homeowner we served.
WP_000899Last Saturday was our fourth S.O.N. Weekend, and to be honest, I think our congregation has been blessed even more than the people we’ve helped. It has drawn us together as one family and given us the opportunity to work side-by-side with each other in ways that bring glory to Christ. On the Sunday morning after our workday, we gathered together in Fellowship Hall, all wearing our red T-shirts, to treat the families we served to breakfast before our morning worship service.  Several of our guests took the opportunity to thank us and to share their reactions to being helped. One of them said, “I live alone and I thought God had forgotten me, that He no longer cared about me. But then your church came and I was overwhelmed to see that He really did love me after all. He sent His angels to be His hands and feet.”
WP_000902That’s the greatest part of S.O.N. Weekend to me—that we, His humble servants who scrub floors and bathrooms on our knees, who paint rooms and wash windows and rake leaves, who climb ladders to clean gutters and fix leaky roofs, don’t do this work for our own glory. Those we serve get to see Christ in all of us, and all of the praise and glory goes to God.


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