~ by Pablo Colindres ~
Why do I “outreach”? Is it for recognition—pats on the back reassuring me how good a Christian I am? Do I turn down volunteer positions if I don’t receive proof I did it: a plaque, a certificate, a T-shirt? Community service hour-logs are filled, but for what reason? Do I really want to better my community, or do I just want to appear in the city newspaper as the local “Good Samaritan”? Does every penny (“Sorry, I left my change at home. . . ”) I give a homeless person build credit in heaven?
My Outreach Experience
One outreach experience really stands out for me. All I wanted was something good to film and show my peers, an example of how service does not have to be boring or tiring. I was not necessarily looking for a life-changing experience—I mean, how life-changing can ladling soup be? I was not even sure I would get anything that would keep people’s attention more than 30 seconds.
God had other plans, as He usually does. Following college student customs, we managed to fit 10 people and a camera in a two-door, four-seat car and headed to the local soup kitchen. Throughout the preparing process I did not think much of the people I was serving; rather I was engrossed with how the food I was preparing looked—after all, presentation is 80 percent of the dining experience. That was what I was pondering—trifles! When lunch hour rolled around, God awoke in me the real reason why I was there.
In those people who formed a line, I saw Jesus. I saw Him in the torn mother with her little girl, who smiled and thanked us all. I saw Him in the man who looked “normal” in an old suit, but a suit nonetheless. I saw Him in those who seemed ashamed of their condition, in those who looked as if they had not had a “square meal” in too long. They were all broken, waiting for someone to show them love. They were those who Jesus talked about on His final exam: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, quenching the thirsty, visiting the outcasts and receiving the strangers (see Matt. 25:31-46).
Suddenly, my film became secondary (although it did turn out great). The new T-shirt did not excite me as much. It was now all about the hungry, the ones who might need more than just physical food.
Not Just a Homework Assignment
Sometimes the so-called Great Commission can seem like Jesus’ last homework assignment, and we can’t turn it in late. From pulpits we are prodded to pass out flyers for evangelistic series door to door. We hear missionaries’ stories of stunning miracles, hundreds of converts and exciting adventure as distant as the lands in which the stories were born. “See,” my pew neighbor says, “that is a true Christian.”
Wait a minute now, I think. I’m a true Christian, too.
What’s the real reason I take time out of my busy(?) schedule and hand out those flyers halfheartedly, half-hoping the hours go by faster? What if, instead of an assignment, we look at outreach as spreading good news? When I receive good news, I don’t hesitate to tell anyone who inquires what my overly enthusiastic smile means. Joy spreads like wildfire and people smile with the news bearer.
We have good news. What if we made it a point to share for the sole purpose of seeing someone smile? Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful the feet of those who bring good news!” I want those feet. I want the world to experience the liberating peace, joy, and love God offers. What if that were our mission? Not a “converts” count, but a “people I’ve made smile” count.
What if. . . ?
Pablo Colindres is a communication sophomore from Keene, Texas, attending Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Ultimate Guide to Soul Hunting
(or, Don’t Try This at Home)
1. Always initiate contact by referring to the victim’s salvation status.
2. Follow their status (most likely “doomed” or “lost”) with a “but . . . Jesus loves you.”
3. We know that hell isn’t burning right now, so refer to it as “the future lake of fire.”
4. When they attempt to turn you away, repeat step 1.
5. If they agree to listen, you have to sound intelligent. Employ lots of theological words like “eschatological” and “glossolalia.”
6. If they attempt to describe their own beliefs, laugh at their pathetic thoughts and repeat steps 1 and 2.
7. When finished with the outreach procedure, offer to baptize them right then—who knows if they’ll be alive tomorrow?
8. If they refuse, repeat steps 1 and 2. Remind them of the lake of fire.
9. Make sure you have their contact information—you will be contacting them in the future, even if they don’t desire it. (This is called “following up.”)
10 . Never leave a victim without gaining a commitment of some sort or being physically removed from the premises.