The following post comes from Adventures of Lauren. Lauren just completed a summer internship in youth ministry at a church in Virginia and had a eye opening experience on a mission trip to Philadelphia, which is what this post is about. Lauren is entering her senior year at Grove City College in PA.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 Andthe King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:35-40
Work this past week was a real eye-opener! I have been to the streets of northern Philly that are clothed with drug abuse and poverty. I have cleaned some of the streets of their cocaine bags, trash, and other items that should not be seen in public. I have refilled jugs of water to thirsty men in a shelter that provides them with their daily lunch. I have seen the face of poverty in one of the poorest areas in the nation.
The organizations I have been working with has a heart to eradicate injustice and poverty in this city. They seek to show the love of Christ by services that enable the homeless to: eat, sleep, shower, get clothes for interviews, create online applications, have a mailing address, and so much more. God is doing fabulous work through them! They have touched countless lives, as have groups of volunteers.
I honestly and truly appreciate the work they are doing.
Planning-wise, the organization I am with has helped the leaders by taking the teaching and scheduling responsibilities. We have had quite the rigorous schedule!
I love that they have the passion for social changes to take place in this city, but it seems to have come at the cost of openly proclaiming faith to those they interact with.
Sitting in the evening sessions, we have been discussing the encounter Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well- found in John 4. It is obvious to make the social distinction between Jesus and this woman, and they have in the teaching. Fair enough. However, I feel as though this passage was stretched too far to apply to our acts of service. Each night we talked about the issues plaguing this world, yet failed to mention the need for a Savior. I have heard the Gospel proclaimed twice by those we were working for, but not by the organization leaders! The focus has been on overcoming boundaries and prejudices. Yes this is needed, but the emphasis is extremely strong.
Several of our students asked after the first day if we get to actually share the Gospel with people we might interact with. As the week progressed, we had little one-on-one communication with those we were serving.
One of the organizations, where one of our groups was working, is led by a minister that teaches art classes to students. Not once did this minister pray or mention the Gospel or Christ to the kids. She is claiming to show the love of Christ and help the families that have been hurt by the church…but fails to mention the reason she is doing this program. I don’t want to judge her intentions, but it is difficult to stomach that a minister would set aside any discussion of faith because she has private, secular donors.
The notion of acting out our faith is good, and Biblical, but we are called to proclaim our faith as well.
We live in a time where the distinctions between faith and being a generally “good” and moral person are becoming too blurred, which in turn jeopardizes the proclamation of the Gospel. Liberal theology and interpretations of Scripture rob us of a Divine Christ, who loved and cared for all… but make Him just a good man.
Knowing this, then, why are we not allowed to share this Good News of Grace and Salvation, while working with Christian organizations. These people- the lost and “least of these” surely need to hear it too!