How do we love our neighbor? Could it be as simple as just getting out of our houses and serving whatever need is present, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical?
In the Gospels and Acts we see Christ and his followers preaching the Good News after meeting very real human needs. Healing, feeding, and serving went hand in hand with preaching and proclaiming. Our churches seek to serve their neighbors as Jesus’ hands and feet. Serving leads to Gospel proclamation.
Recently, one Communitas church on the outskirts of Moscow launched a Serve the City initiative with a city-wide service day. Volunteers, including followers of Jesus AND non believers, fanned out across the city to focus on five projects:
- Visiting kids and doing landscaping work at a local orphanage
- Picking up litter
- Painting and freshening up a city square dedicated to veterans
- Giving out free hugs
- Visiting a stray dog shelter
Why are we petting stray dogs during a “spiritual outreach?” Because it’s a way to CONNECT with people. Why are we picking up litter in the city? Because we do it WITH people who don’t yet know Jesus–but who care about their neighborhood. In Communitas, we’ve seen that time after time, serving side-by-side leads to spiritual conversations and new followers of Jesus.
In Russia, “everyone” believes they are Christian (Orthodox) by birth. And yet, virtually no one knows Jesus as Savior. Through the city-wide service day, which included teams from the UK and the US, we had volunteers serving for four days in a row, with evening “mixer” events scheduled every night for all the volunteers and people we came in contact with. By the last night we looked around the room and saw business leaders, students, orphanage graduates, foreigners, young professionals, and church people all socializing together! They were all crossing lines of status and relationship without realizing it, drawn by a spirit of community–and by the Spirit of God. It was a holy moment.
Will you pray with us for Communitas churches in Russia as they follow up with these people and plan more Serve the City engagements throughout the year? May God’s Spirit move in the hearts of volunteers and those served–across the entire city–after seeing Christ’s Body act in service to the community.