35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35 – 40)
Theme: If not You, then Who?
Yasmin’s story of service to her family got us off to a great start yesterday. Thanks again Yasmin! Today we are going to turn our attention to Christian service in our communities and I am pleased that James has allowed me to tell his story.
I heard a Bible teacher say once that many people are excited about helping the world until they realize they have to deal with people. Serving people in our communities can be a daunting task but if not you, then who?
James’ Story of Service
James is an elder at Westside Community Church in Trinidad and has been participating in 40 days of Discipline since its inception almost 10 years ago. For an even longer period (since 2007), he has been volunteering with the St. James Police Youth Club (SJPYC) in Trinidad, including service as a Board member. The SJPYC serves at-risk and disadvantaged youth between the ages of 5 and 21. These young people are often forgotten by society until/unless their lives intersect with the criminal justice system. Without appropriate intervention, statistics say the outcome of their lives will be dismal. God uses people like James to change the statistics. James’ decision to serve is driven by a concern for these young people and builds on experience he gained working with at-risk youth in the cities of Oakland, California and New York. The spiritual dimension of his service is immense, as illustrated in our passage for today.
Please read the passage above and respond to the request and question below.
Request and Question:
- Please remember James in prayer.
- Do you have any lessons from serving in your community that other participants could benefit from?
March 16, 2021 at 6:46 am
I will pray for James.
March 16, 2021 at 8:30 am
One thing that has stuck out to me is how much service can affect your heart. Service is something that is done to help others in your community, but it also involves a transformation of how you view your community. By getting involved, your community becomes part of your life, rather than you just living separately within the community. The best parts about my experiences in serving my community have been building that connection and going through that transformation.
March 16, 2021 at 8:37 am
I work in the financial industry and took financial education for granted. Until about 10 years ago when I started to volunteer to share financial literacy education.
Sharing simple yet poignant principles with others can have life altering impact beyond the financial.
I had older brothers that shared advise with me early in my career and although I didn’t fully understand all they shared I listened knowing they had my best interest in mind.
Taking time to share what with others what you know and have experience makes a difference.
March 16, 2021 at 9:33 am
When living abroad for our tour of assignment, I serve the community not only through church but also through the schools my children studied. My children went to International schools and weekend Japanese schools. Both of these schools have many charity events like bazaars, festivals or even sports events that aimed to raise funds or donate proceeds to many institutions like for deprived kids, home for the aged, orphanages or sometimes help to feed children in poor countries. As a wife of diplomat, I volunteered to work with other wives in the diplomatic corps and sometimes a joint project of Japanese community and Japan embassy like I remember when posted in Pakistan, there was this Japanese ladies group called “ Jacaranda” that I was a member and once a week, we meet with all the members and do crafts, example – embroideries, origami (paper craft), baking, cooking and whatever we make in this group, can be sold during Christmas bazaar or Summer festival in the community. I remember, we donated a lot to St. Joseph Hospice in Rawalpindi. While living in Pakistan, I did a project called, “scrabble game for street children and abused women of Rawalpindi through a Christian church called, “ Day by Day “. I opened my house once a month, and since I love cooking, and scrabble game I used both of these to raise funds. I invited many wives of officials from the diplomatic corps and international organizations like UN, UNHCR, and international trading firms, to play scrabble at my home and after the game lunch will be provided. All attendees were to donate a certain amount (I already forgot how much in Rupees each one donates) and of course there’s a list so that the names of the wives who helped can be acknowledged later. This project that I did in my home was able to raise money to help street kids and to buy sewing machines for deprived women in Pakistan. Day by Day Church taught these women to learn how to earn their livelihood through sewing. The lesson I learned from this experience is that, you can use your hobby like cooking and playing scrabble game to help the community. Of course, if you have an opportunity to meet wives from
all walks of life, that is also helpful, because the more participants you have, the more donations can be raised. I was blessed to have many friends and acquaintances everywhere we live. I think Pakistan was one of the places I’ve lived where I truly enjoyed doing volunteer work.
Living in Japan now, my community sometimes hold events in the City Hall and its aimed is to support charitable institutions. Sometimes I buy items for charity if I’m unable to to help physically.
In my neighborhood, my next door neighbor is an old woman living alone. I often bring her some food that I cooked and take time to chat with her. I also invited her many times to my church (when there was no covid19 yet) especially during Christmas and thanksgiving. I also give her a call once in a while or just drop by her house when I feel the need to check on her, like after earthquake or storm or just simply saying how are you today? I also shared about Jesus to her and I like it when she asks questions about my God and my faith. Grateful, my ability to speak Japanese improved for the past years, allowing me to be involved more in the community I live. Praise God for his provisions and guidance.
March 16, 2021 at 10:06 am
James’ story is inspirational. My community service has been sporadic and to individuals. Eg. Some groceries every 2 weeks for a family of 5; taking a group of underprivileged children to celebrate a birthday at pizza hut; taking in a 2 years old child for a few months who was living on a sidewalk with his mother, helping with school fees, even while being worried about paying my own bills. The respect and care shown to others is important, to show God’s love. However, even more important is to always clearly give the message that all is done for God’s glory, that He is the source of everything.
March 16, 2021 at 11:13 am
Thanks for sharing your story James. You have been consistent in your support of the Police Youth Club for over a decade and have represented them well to the Church community. Thank you.
March 16, 2021 at 8:07 pm
There are many acts of service in my community that come to mind but most of them are not in my community to which we relocated relatively recently though even here my husband and I have had the opportunity to provide clothing for a needy family whom we never even met but whose brother requested our help. In addition, we give generously, sometimes sacrificially to displaced women and children not only in the environs and to persons asking on behalf of different organizations, but also to some who are faced with medical expenses that are out of their reach. In fact, we do not “make our left hand know what our right hand know” as the saying goes and my response is not to proclaim it from the roof top but even on the matter of housing we saw a great need and quietly helped a senior citizen couple significantly as they sought to build their own home. I think giving out of one’s need especially to a very worthy cause is an extraordinary act of kindness and service for which God’s blessing is guaranteed.
Maybe the most satisfying service for me however is reaching out to mentally unstable people by providing food and clothing for them. Understand that I have ‘my community’ where we currently reside but I also have ‘my community’ in two locations in Jamaica, namely, where I grew up and where my parents’ family home is (at least Daddy’s as Mama’s in her heavenly home now), as well as our own home elsewhere in Jamaica so for me answering this question goes beyond where I currently live, hence the greatest service that goes straight to the heart of the scripture in Matthew 25:35-40 centers mainly around my rural community where I grew up and where as my Mom used to say, “God placed our home there right by the roadside” to help others. I still do that every time I go home. One of the most touching experiences to me was seeing one of my very brilliant classmates who was an excellent Math and Physics teacher at one of the best High Schools in Kingston, walking the streets, in dirty clothes and quietly saying to me when he was passing by our gate, “Maverlin!” I fought back my tears (like I’m doing now) and though he was not in his right mind, he was still very quiet as he always was. I invited him in to our front yard (having been assured by my parents that he was ” not dangerous” though mentally unstable). I got him food, a brand new T-shirt which made him smile approvingly and which he immediately put on at the side of the house, apologizing very politely for taking off his shirt in front of me, and telling me “Thank you Maverlin. God bless you! Are you still quiet? You were always quiet from we were going to school. You were always such a nice person. What are you doing now?” I was choking with grief too much to answer but will never forget that service. Sadly, about 3 years later I got his funeral program that my Mom kept to show me, remarking at the outstanding funeral and unbelievable tributes he got! (Sometimes we don’t know how or why people end up mentally deranged or emotionally unstable so we should not judge!) There are many more acts of service that the Lord has enabled me to do in my community there, based not only on God’s Word but also on the outstanding examples my parents set for me/us their children to follow. To God be the glory!
March 16, 2021 at 9:12 pm
I have not been able to do much in Florida but just give some pennies,dollars and clothes to those in need.
All of you are wonderful in your contributions.
James I think my friends Jasmin did some service with these kids a few years when I was in Trinidad.
Please continue your much needed service.
March 17, 2021 at 3:17 am
I’m blessed by all the stories/comments. This year’s 40 days of discipline bible study is amazing and really interesting . I knew many of the participants sharing comments especially Pastor Oliver and Sharon ( Maverlin). Your comments are very encouraging. It contributes to my refection time alone. Thank you and looking forward to more topics coming up. In this pandemic, bible study on line is very helpful and the more it makes a difference to me because I once lived Port of Spain, and worshiped with some of you at the Westside Community Church in T&T. I feel like I’m back in the country.