What on earth is Jesus doing in the world? Commentary on Jesus news.

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Location: Irondale, Alabama, United States

Monday, October 30, 2006

Jesus goes to work in Jackson, Mississippi

“The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.”

Jesus, in Mark 10:45

“I by my works will show you my faith.”

James, brother of Jesus, in James 2:18

God bless the churches of the Jackson, Mississippi, Ministerial Association! Last Saturday, they joined together for a day of work during which they picked up trash, painted rooms, planted flowers and did other service projects around Jackson. The event, known as “Sharefest” is about “putting faith into action and spreading the love of Jesus to everyone in the community. The story can be read in Sunday’s Jackson Sun. This year’s Sharefest came on the same day that some 3 million people nationwide participated in “Make a Difference Day,” which was created 15 years ago by USA Weekend magazine.

What the What the Jackson churches did is some of the best “Jesus news” I’ve read in a while! I have seen first-hand the power of service in the name of Jesus Christ. When I was a youth pastor, I started the tradition of an annual youth mission trip. Over the years, I have accompanied youth groups who worked in hurricane relief following Hugo, Andrew, and Katrina and flood relief along the Mississippi River in West Alton, Missouri, rehabilitated homes in Biloxi, Mississippi and St. Petersburg, Florida, and did repair work at the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home.

These youth groups impacted hundreds of lives for love of Jesus. What is more astounding, however, is the difference it has made in the lives of the youth who went, and in the churches who sent them. In one church the youth mission trip was the pivotal event in turning the whole church toward mission work and thereby helping to bring about a spiritual rebirth in that congregation.

Engaging adults in hands-on mission is more of a challenge. Time constraints and aging draw adults to view mission as giving money. Giving money is vital to mission work, but if that’s all a congregation does, it can remove the human contact that creates the experience of serving. Is the experience of serving important? Well, I notice that at the Last Supper, Jesus didn’t tip the waiter to wash the disciples’ feet… he did it himself.

Projects like the one in Jackson put faith into action, and we need more of that! As volunteer Eugene Brandt put it, “I think it brings joy to the heart of God.”



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