Reaching Beyond the Church Walls
Last fall, Southside Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, spent a Saturday being the hands and feet of Jesus. From children through senior adults, 173 members of the church organized ministry teams through Sunday schools and went out to model the love of Christ in the community.
Wearing bright yellow T-shirts with the question, "Are You Connected?" on the back, church members did a variety of ministries. Projects ranged from delivering food boxes to needy people in an apartment complex, to prayerwalking in a local public school while leaving prayer notes and goody bags for teachers. Other teams gave out light bulbs in an apartment building, using the opportunity to talk about Jesus being the Light of the world.
Local police and fire stations were visited by children who had prepared cookies and prayer notes for the officers and firefighters. Other teams visited the waiting rooms at local hospitals to give refreshments to family members and to pray with them about their loved ones.
One of the teams met a family coming out of intensive care after having just visited their critically ill relative.
"We were able to sit down with this grieving family and pray for them. They ended up hugging us, who just minutes before had been strangers. It was incredible," said church member Gina Hinds.
Youth teams went through the church neighborhood to clean yards and meet people. One group of youth went to a door that had a "No Trespassing" sign on it, only to find a woman who was a recent widow and facing a number of needs in her home. After talking with her, the youth asked if they could pray for her — and upon concluding the prayer, the widow prayed for them, thanking God for answering her prayer of that morning by sending people who cared.
"We all were in tears after that prayer," said Brian Matthews, a student at Spartanburg Community College. Members of Southside came away more blessed for having participated.
"It's always that way when we are on mission with God. We are the ones who come away changed," said David Blanton, senior pastor at Southside.