“Whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward” (Mark 9:41, NKJV).
In a society that seems to be increasingly disconnected, it is the purpose of the church to reach into the world around us and be the transformation that Jesus intended from the beginning. When God works in our lives and cleans us up, it is easy to insulate ourselves and become indifferent to that which is going on around us. As the hands and feet of Jesus, the church must purposefully fulfill the heartbeat and character He embodied to those around Him. With the calling of Jesus to make disciples, we must embrace the reality that people need to be touched in a tangible, personal way to open up relationships and influenced for His kingdom.
Abundant Life Church has partnered with us as we plant a daughter work in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. As The Way Church, we’ve been led by the Holy Ghost and understand that in order to be effective in the inner city, we must be approachable and available in peoples’ daily lives. The city of Baltimore is filled with extreme poverty and neglect. As a result, the buildings are crumbling, and trash is filling the streets. Because of this, we spent a day cleaning up the streets to express our commitment and care to the community. About forty people from Abundant Life and The Way teamed up together on a Saturday to clean up the trash in the neighborhood we are targeting for evangelism. People in the neighborhood who became aware were surprised and thankful to see us caring about the place where they live.
I believe it is important to embrace the reality that God made us both body and spirit; they are inseparable from one another. As individual believers, and as a church body, we must embrace this principle that without caring for someone’s physical and daily struggles, we cannot minister to their spiritual needs. The ultimate purpose of the church is to make disciples who follow Christ in word and in deed. It is important to remember that a social gospel has no power without a spiritual transformation. However, the teachings of Christ and the gospel always find their way down to the daily grind of people’s lives. The church must make connections on a personal level that can ultimately lead to the transformation of hearts and of the community for which Jesus gave His life. What an opportunity!
The Holy Ghost is leading us as The Way Church to disciple people through ministering daily to the tangible needs in their lives. It is our vision to be hands-on in the community through mentorship, job training, parenting classes, and drug and alcohol recovery classes. These ministries will be clearly and purposefully given from biblical and Christ-centered principles. I believe Jesus is challenging and leading the church out of indifference and into a place of compassion.
I encourage you to take stop and look for tangible needs in your community and work to minister to these needs from a heart of love and compassion. If we as the Apostolic church will be moved to reach and touch the needs of our communities, they can see Jesus as a very present help in time of need.
Anthony Hanson and wife, Erica, are originally from Portland, Oregon. They and their three children moved to Baltimore, Maryland, nearly two years ago to plant The Way Church in the city of Baltimore.