Showing the Love of Christ — In Two Minutes
Earlier this semester, I traveled to Columbus with five other MVNU students to walk the streets and share the message of hope and love of Christ.
The effort was organized by the CoSMO group Traffick Jam, which teamed up with Out of Darkness, an anti-human trafficking ministry that originally began in Atlanta, Georgia.
Our group joined the Out of Darkness volunteers for their regular outreach, Princess Night, where they go into the city to spread the gospel.
Just like any other city, Columbus has its ‘nice’ parts and its ‘not so nice’ parts. We were definitely in a ‘less than nice’ neighborhood of Columbus. However, not one moment during the evening did we feel unsafe or worried.
We drove around in a large white van with the Out of Darkness volunteers, stopping for anyone the driver felt directed to.
This night allowed me to experience another type of ministry and taught me many valuable lessons.
I learned that we do not have to drain our bank accounts to go to another culture or travel hours to another state. We can do God’s work in our own backyards.
But, that does not make it any easier.
Throughout the evening, I discovered three obstacles to street ministry and learned how to overcome each one.
The first is actually getting to the street. Sometimes, beginning is the hardest step.
It WILL be uncomfortable at first.
Don’t make excuses for yourself. Don’t say, “I can’t” or “I don’t have time.”
You can, and you do.
The most important thing to always remember about any ministry is this: it’s not about you.
The second important thing to remember: you have the easiest part. All you have to do is get out there and open your mouth.
Jesus does all the heavy lifting.
The second challenge we faced was talking to strangers.
Starting a conversation with a stranger is difficult, but you get better with practice and time. I discovered that once I get that initial “hello” out of my mouth, it was easier to continue talking.
The Princess Night volunteers made it easier by handing out roses and homemade cards to each person we spoke to. This simple gesture helped break the ice and served as a conversation starter.
However, this did not always work.
At one point the driver stopped to speak with two girls walking along the sidewalk.
We pulled up to get out but the moment Mark Reilly, co-leader of Traffick Jam, opened the door, they took off running down the sidewalk.
It was obvious that driving around darkened streets in a white van — without a church logo — was not the best first impression.
The third obstacle is that we are only there for one moment.
I got one tiny glimpse of a person’s life. But, I do not know her whole story.
Though there are times when you have the opportunity to sit down with strangers and get to know them, this night was different.
We had two minutes.
Two minutes to show the love of Christ and to learn as much about this person as we could.
I saw confusion, wonderment and happiness on many faces.
The amazement of street ministry is that people expect you to want something from them.
I saw women get defensive and guarded before we even opened our mouths.
But, the moment we smiled and handed them a rose and homemade card they realized we were not there to take.
We were there to give.
This simple gesture opened up wonderful opportunities to show love.
We learned that you do not have to go far to meet people in need and show them love and kindness.
You do not have to spend thousands of dollars to go on a mission trip overseas.
You can freely go into your community to meet people who need Christ.
I look forward to future trips with Out of Darkness and more opportunities to participate in street ministry.
However, the best part about street ministry is that you do not have to wait.
You and I can do it today; just walk outside and say “hi” to someone. You may be surprised with what God can do through you once you take that first step.