Ministry Focus: Outreach
By Elizabeth Barnard
Outreach comes in all shapes and sizes, colors, and themes. Just as Jesus loved all the little children, calling them “all precious in his sight” God loves different forms of outreach that lean into loving the lost, least, and left out.
What is Outreach?
So what is outreach? At its most basic outreach is reaching out to all, providing something beneficial that will communicate the love of Christ. As such outreach can vary widely in size, shape, and scope.
Forms of Outreach
One very effective form of outreach is to train someone else in a skill: this can be tutoring in reading or writing, practical skills like plumbing or carpentry, or investing in discipleship. Often our teams do outreach to needy communities by providing needed supplies like sheets, clothing, medical supplies and care. Sometimes this outreach even goes to the most basic level of life as we provide food and water.
Serving others is a great way to show Christ’s love. Construction projects are a main way we do this, but we’ll also respond to what the individual needs are in each community or household.
Missions as a whole can be considered outreach, but at some point we must break it down into tangible, achievable pieces we can wrap our minds around. This is where our ministry options come into play. They’re designed to allow people on the team to share their skills with those around and the church the team is partnered with.
One of my favorite outreach ministries is one that is not even listed among our ministry options. It is not one that we coordinate or we even talk about but one that God orchestrates on every trip I have ever been on.
Love for the Outcast
On each trip we see the bystanders. They watch what we are doing during our ministry time and why we have groups partnered with churches in their community. We see them lined up along fences watching groups play and grow in relationships or at the local house store making small talk with their friends so they can watch what is going on.
It never fails that someone from the mission team will extend an invitation of some form to the group of bystanders. Many times the bystanders’ initial expression is to laugh it off and still not join the group. Undeterred, team members continue to reach out to them, encouraging them to come play a sport or visit the church, or perhaps the team member gives a craft or token the group has made.
The bystanders may not join the group that day but the next day the group of bystanders is back inching closer to the activity, and paying even more attention to what is going on. Always by the end of the week there are fewer people at the fence and more people within the group because someone was willing to open their heart and reach out to others.
The joy that I have as a staff leader and mission consultant to see the change during the week of the mission trip is beyond words. Your teams are making an impact through your ministry but even when you are not watching you are being an outreach of Christ, showing His love and His joy even with those you meet for a moment at the fence.
By your outreach more eyes are open to the gospel, more hands are equipped to do ministry in your area and in Belize, and more people become aware of the saving and beautiful power of Jesus and His redemption in each of our lives. We are “red and yellow, black and white” and that mixture of colors is a beautiful picture of how precious we are all in God’s sight. Outreach is our way of showing them God’s love through our actions.