Dr. Amy Sherman once said, "It's just too easy to love 'The Poor'. It's a lot harder to actually do the hard work of building relationships with real people with real needs with real, messy issues."
Together, we recognize our brokenness and desperate need for Jesus Christ to restore our communities. Apart from abiding in Him, we can do nothing. We endeavor to bring Christ and His love alongside the poor and needy. We initiate relationships through simple extensions of love and make friends like Jesus did, finding "person's of peace" (Luke 10) among the needy. Rather than spending time and resources on a handout program, we primarily focus on the relationships. As we discover the physical and spiritual needs of the poor, we seek the Lord along the journey with them to not just meet needs, but share life.
When you make friends, you become a part of someone's life, and they become a part of yours. It's a two-way street. We share with each other's struggles and learn to be flexible and patient with God’s work process in each other (whether Christian or pre-Christian). As a believing community in Christ, our desire is to release His incarnate mission which resides within all of us, to a community of shattered hopes in need of restoration.
Initiate Contact - network with the community by meeting people where they gather. Be attentive to listen, take the place of a learner of family relationships and current events from the locals, and be mindful of the history and backgrounds of the community. Ask a lot of questions and learn people's names. Networking takes place at the workplace, food distribution sites, community sporting events, senior centers, schools, grocery stores, justice centers, jails, parks, etc. Immerse yourself in aspects of community life. Wherever people gather, start conversations in the community and share in their concerns. Listen closely to what is being said from their unique perspective, as well as what is not being said. Listen for what God may be saying about the one in front of you.
Cultivate Relationship - pursue further meetings in the community with one-on-one releationships, couples, and trust-groups the Lord leads us to connect with. Consistent communication and sharing time together over coffee, meals, hiking, sporting events, support groups, shopping, movies, hunting, fishing, volunteering, community events, etc. The goal is to build a solid trust with people we're engaging. This takes a lot of time because people in need may be reluctant to reveal all the things about their lives because of intimidation, shame/humiliation, or fear of judgment. Over shared time together, it develops into mutual admiration and respect for one another and just like any trusted relationship, the tides of fear will eventually recede. Be willing to help another with their farm work, home cleaning/repair, yard work, or whatever situation may present itself, but being mindful that any "help" can sometimes be perceived as intrusive or patronizing, and without knowing, it can bring unintended harm through our good intentions. Our intent is to be family, sharing life with the needy, and modeling Christ in that shared life. There is a mutual invitation to share in various activities of life whether in the home or community.
Discover Skills/Connect with Needs - Skills and gifting are discovered organically simply through the nature of the relationship that is being developed. Becoming aware to physical, emotional, spiritual, relational and financial needs are also important. Listen, empathize, and ask the Lord to reveal places in which you can relate. Resources in the community may exist to help someone in need. Needs may include, but are not limited to emergency food/clothing, life coaching, budgeting assistance, employment, transportation assistance, and support groups such as AA/NA, 12-step, and handling loss and grief. As a community, we seek the Lord in prayer to reveal the best way to share in mutual concerns and the best means to meet the needs of our friends (and one another for that matter).
Restore Hope - In most situations, there is not a clear solution. We patronize people when we think we know better by having the answer to "fix" their problem, or use one-sized fits all approaches that encourage entitlement and dependency lifestyles. Instead, encourage and inspire a person in their skills, education, talents and gifting in furthering their 'God purpose' in life. Focus on re-inspiring the energy to not give up the fight in the search, and coach the person to agencies that have a good track record of helping people with employment. There may even be barriers and issues of discipline that might restrict the search process. Empathize with issues that exist, but help them overcome by praying in the midst of struggle. The Lord will reveal solutions in his perfect timing, but it may not always be what we're looking for. Our aim to is love people as Jesus Christ first loved us.
Plant Jesus Christ - We don't come with an agenda to covert or forcefully impose Jesus on anyone, but simply proclaim him through loving actions and words, being spiritual fathers and mothers, starting with our own family. We certainly aren't perfect at it; instead, we pursue excellence in becoming mature followers of Jesus Christ by doing what He tells us to do in his Word in the presence of community. We willingly share what Christ has done in our lives and trust that His spirit will beckon hearts to come to Him. Our only "agenda" is to point people to Christ in the journey and invite people to join with our lives in serving Him. Some people are not ready to receive Christ, and that's ok, but it won't stop us from continually exhibiting the love and hope of Jesus Christ. Our hope is that all would come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, and in doing so, participate in His Body.
Family Communion - As a relationship built on trust is formed, we integrate and connect friends with the believing community in Christ who also network their friendships. This takes place in public, home and non-religious settings. Cultivating relationships not only takes place with the initial networked relationships, but now the believing community is involved. At some point in time, interest about who we are, and why we behave the way that we do, is asked by the pre-Christian. At that point we discuss who Jesus Christ is, and why we follow him. In some cases, we might discern the Holy Spirit prompting us to ask people directly about Jesus and what it looks like to be a follower of Him. If interest is shown, we invite them to our meetings of discovering Jesus together.
Discover Jesus Together - we invite those interested to participate in weekly meetings for those wanting to discover Jesus in community and His work in shared daily life. Meetings are centered around Jesus Christ and may include, but are not limited to, communion with a common meal together, sharing struggles, mutual participation in biblical discussions, prayer, and recreational activities. We have no programs, budgets, traditional services, or paid professionals. See the Life page for more info.