When Jesus looked at the crowds, He saw individuals and their needs. He knew their names and had compassion on each one. What is compassion? It is concern for the suffering or misfortune of others and a desire to do something about it. At times, the needs of a group of people are larger than a few of us can meet, so God opens our hearts in compassion and gives a vision for pulling together and starting a ministry to a community. Read about some of those ministries here, then check out a few ideas of how to start your own.
Helping Special-Needs Adults
About one-fourth of the 32 million special-needs adults in the US could be taught skills that could help them support themselves. That fact is the reason BiG—the Brookwood in Georgetown community—got started.
“BiG is a God-centered, post-high school vocational community for adults with special needs,” said Anne Muilman, the director of admissions.
Erin Kiltz, who desired for her special-needs daughter to live a productive life, started the program. It began in Erin’s home in Georgetown, Texas, with eight citizens, which is what BiG participants are called. It later expanded into a church building, and now, nine years later, it has its own facility and serves 80 citizens.
A local pastor serves as chaplain and leads the citizens in daily devotions and singing. Many of the adults who work with the citizens to create pottery, candles, soaps, woodcrafts, jewelry, greeting cards, and baked goods are volunteers.
“If we try something that doesn’t work, we move on to something else. We call this falling forward,” Anne said. Community members and churches contribute 44 percent of the funding. The remainder is provided by tuition and the sale of items produced by the citizens. It is hoped that one day BiG will be totally self-funded.
Assisting Families in a Crisis
Dr. George Ross with the North American Mission Board in New Orleans, Louisiana, said churches there have identified a community in need—children and families in crisis. He said churches assist local adoption/foster care workers and foster parents by providing “three-day bags” with clothes for children who have been removed quickly from a bad situation without any of their personal items.
In Round Rock, Texas, churches work with Care Portal to assist families who were separated but are now reunited and need help to reestablish “home.” Care Portal is a nationwide online platform that shares the needs of hurting children and their families. The needs vary, but often they are food, kitchen items, and furniture. According to Christi McWhorter, the liaison at First Baptist, “Each church contributes what they are able—either in the form of money or the items requested. We have a storage building where we store items donated for this ministry.” This helps the church meet needs as soon as they are identified.
Caring for the Sick
Hope Clinic in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, was established in 2013 by members of churches in Washington Osage Baptist Association. Their vision is to spread the love of God to the community by providing free quality health care and spiritual guidance.
Every Thursday night, volunteer doctors, nurses, a pharmacist, and a dentist come together to provide free health care for people who could not otherwise afford it.
Robert Wadsworth, who heads up this ministry, said Paul Koonce—the association’s director of missions—had originally recommended they take it slow and see how God guided the process. But God’s plans turned out to be faster—a local church offered them a place to hold their clinic. Medical equipment, prescription medicine, and volunteers were all provided by God within a short period of time, and they began serving the community in late 2013.
Over time, God provided in numerous other ways. They were able to build their own building, and more than 200 volunteers from 28 churches representing seven denominations have participated in this ministry. More than 50 people have come to know the Lord. Everyone involved in the ministry wants to not only share the gospel but also see new believers grow in their faith. The clinic has recently joined forces with a local Baptist church to offer Bible study. They are trusting God that a new church will be started through this effort.
How to Get Involved
Want to get something started in your area to minister to a community in need? Here are some ideas for multigenerational ministry in your community:
- Do maintenance work, painting, or repairs on an elderly neighbor’s house.
- Provide occasional child care for children of single moms or foster parents.
- Spend time with senior adults listening to their stories.
- Assist with yard work for the handicapped or chronically ill.
- Organize emergency food, cleanup, etc. for a community facing a natural disaster.
Donna Fort, an IMB missionary in South Africa, has witnessed how compassion ministry brings people to Christ.