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John Grant: Joy in serving

John Grant • Nov 9, 2017 at 9:26 PM

Last week, I sat with five friends at a Lebanon coffee shop enjoying great conversation. We were discussing emergency homeless shelters in Wilson County churches this winter. Such a serious topic might not sound like fun, but we were laughing and enjoying ourselves.

Amazing joy grows out of serving together. 

Part of the joy relates to facing a difficult task. Working through challenges gives a sense of achievement. Michelle Wilde from First United Methodist Church felt reluctant about homeless ministry, and then she grew to love it. 

“My husband said that our church would be hosting homeless men with a program called Compassionate Hands. I told him there was absolutely no way I would be doing it. This would be his thing, not mine.”

“Then I saw how our church supported the project. There was a huge pile of towels and bedding in the lobby. It needed to be organized, and I did that. The next thing I knew, I was serving breakfast to homeless men and I was hooked.”

The joy also grows out of good times and surprising friendships.  Many volunteers, like Dawn Bradford at Fairview Church, have discovered that it is fun to befriend homeless people, even though they might have scared her at one time.

“In the shelters, we have a blast. We watch Christmas movies and football games. We pop popcorn. Just sitting and talking to them, asking about their past and praying with them and loving on them...It’s so much fun!” 

“I came into it dreading it. Like...what am I supposed to do? But they’re exactly like you and me, they just don’t have a place to lay their head at night. They need love, attention, and affection like everybody else. It’s such a privilege to be able to serve and give.” 

“I felt like God was calling me to do this so that I could bless people, but it has blessed me more than I’ve been able to bless.”

Perhaps most of all, the joy arises from a sense that this is kingdom work. God loves homeless people, and we open our buildings in the name of Jesus. The program is stressful and risky, so we depend on God for wisdom and resources. 

We also depend on one another, even though we attend different churches, churches that disagree. My friends and I are united on things that matter most – we love God, and we need the love of Jesus and the power of the Spirit to carry out this mission of welcoming strangers. 

You can share in the amazing joy that comes through serving. We have room at the table for you. Ways you or your group might consider joining this work include:

• volunteer to stay overnight as a shelter host.

• drive a bus if you have a CDL license. 

• provide food for guests or funds for the ministry.

• talk with church leaders about opening your building one night a week to host guests.

If you want to learn more about these and other opportunities to serve, contact me at 615-444-9502 or [email protected]

John Grant is a minister at College Hills Church of Christ in Lebanon. Preacher’s Corner features a new local preacher each month writing a column.

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