In early September, I enjoyed the privilege of hearing Jill Briscoe

speak at a conference. Wow! I could sit and listen to her all day. And it’s not just because of her cute British accent. 🙂 She can open up the truths of God’s Word. I was like a sponge, just soaking in everything she said.

That day, Jill spoke about Ministry According to Jesus. This morning at MOPS, our mentor spoke about reaching out to those in crisis. She also heard Jill Briscoe speak the same day I did, and she mentioned some of Jill’s message today. It was a good reminder to me, and I wanted to share it with you.

Jesus — when He was on earth — had a ministry of presence. He came. His ministry was incarnational. He did not minister from a distance. He came.

Jill told us about the time she had just moved to the U.S. and her neighbors experienced divorce. The day the husband moved out, Jill (who did not know her neighbor very well), knocked on the neighbor’s door and said, “I just had to come.” Because of her willingness to come to her neighbor, Jill was a blessing during a very dark time.

Jill also told about taking a delegation of women to Serbia during the war there. These women wanted to know what they were supposed to do when they got there; and Jill told them she didn’t know what they were going to do. They said, “That’s not fair. You can’t take us into this war-zone and not give us a plan. What should we say?”

So Jill said, “Say, ‘I just had to come.'”

When the women arrived and began hugging and talking to the refugees, Jill asked the interpretor to go around and listen to her women and see what they were saying. The interpretor returned and said, “It’s so odd. They are all saying the same thing. They’re all saying, ‘I just had to come.'”

Then Jill asked, “And what are the refugees saying?”

The interpretor said, “That’s the other odd thing. They’re all saying the same thing too. They’re all saying, ‘You came. You came.'”

In order to minister to people, we have to be present.

At the MOPS Convetion a month ago, we were reminded that sometimes being involved in people’s lives means getting messy. It means making ourselves vulnerable. It might mean dealing with some ugly stuff. It most definitely will mean getting uncomfortable. It probably means coming alongside a friend in all her mess and yuckiness and being with her.

A ministry of presence may mean visiting someone in prison. And that can definitely be a scary and uncomfortable thing!

A ministry of presence may mean driving a friend to chemotherapy or radiation.

Or holding a friend’s hand when she is depressed and suicidal.

Or crying with a friend who has lost a baby.

Or bringing videos and homemade cookies to a friend whose children have the chicken pox.

Or showing up to take a young mom’s children for two hours so she can take a nap.

Or taking dinner to a widow and eating with her so she doesn’t have to eat alone.

Or going with a friend to visit her child in drug rehab.

Or inviting the teenage mom to have coffee with you once a week.

A ministry of presence could mean cleaning someone’s house or bringing someone meals or just sitting and listening to someone who is hurting. It could mean going with a friend to court during her divorce proceedings or holding a young mom’s hands as she recovers from birthing a child she gives in adoption.

Often, a ministry of presence involves silently listening.

Recently, I’ve been blessed by dear friends who have simply hugged me and said, “I’m thinking about you,” or “I’m praying for you.” Just knowing I am not alone — that I am part of a community and that others care for me — ministers to my heart.

I want to minister like Jesus. I want to show up in people’s lives.



Filed under Christianity

4 responses to “Ministering

  1. Rachel

    Wow, those are some convicting words. I think the last thing you brought out was the most striking to my heart – that it often will mean to just listen and be quiet. I shy away from hard situations at times because “I don’t know what to say”. That takes the wind out of that arguement, doesn’t it?

  2. Rachel, that’s exactly what we concluded at my MOPS meeting this morning. We’re so worried that we’ll say the wrong thing or that we won’t know what to say, so we often avoid the difficult situations. But if our goal is to listen, then we won’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing.

    So much easier said than done. 🙂

  3. Jenn,
    Help me please…. I’m willing to just go…what about our children? I’m REALLY struggling with this. I have neighbors that need me to just go, but it simply isn’t a safe place for my children. How can we be Christ in those situations?! (I pray you hear my “voice” – it is NOT challenging, it is weak and broken, for I lack understanding of how to honor my Father – how to be His heart in places that are dark.)

  4. Dawn, I understand what you are saying. And my husband and I have talked about this a lot. I may blog about this in a separate post, but I will go ahead and tell you a few things I’ve been mulling around.

    I think we need to pray, pray, pray so we know how the Lord is directing us and so we can learn to be sensitive to His still, small voice. I think there will be times when we will go and our children will stay —- for instance, it’s just not always possible or feasible or wise for me to drag 6 small children out to minister. When my husband and I went to the funeral visitation for a family whose 6 children had died (3 were still living), a teenage girl from our church babysat for us. When my cousin and his wife delivered a still-born baby boy just before Christmas last year, my husband stayed with our children so I could go to the funeral. When my friend’s baby died mid-way through her pregnancy and she delivered him by C-section, my husband stayed home with our children so I could visit her in the hospital. It just was not appropriate to take our children along for these things.

    So, sometimes, we will go minister to someone and our children will not be directly involved.

    Other times, God will direct us to show hospitality or friendship to someone whose lifestyle is very different than ours, and we will have to trust God to protect our children — to insulate them from the inside-out rather than our isolating them. Sometimes, we also have to trust Him to protect us as well — like the times we took our baby and visited a brother-in-Christ in a maximum security prison, or the times we let him stay at our home after he was released. (And please don’t be impressed with me for doing this at all! I did it all kicking and screaming and pouting!)

    I think we can explain gently to our children that some lifestyle choices don’t honor God, but that people who don’t know God don’t know how to honor Him or don’t care about honoring Him (and that people who do know Him sometime mess up). That’s why we need to introduce people to Jesus and why we all need to encourage each other. We can ask God to give us more compassion for people and see their sin as a sickness, and our children will pick up on that. Then our children will know that the sin is not acceptable and not a desirable choice, but our children won’t be self-righteous either. (Well, if they’re as slow learners as their momma, they probably still will be, but we may be able to prevent a little of that if we model compassion rather than judgment.)

    If God burdens our heart to minister in specific ways, then we just have to step out in faith and trust Him to protect us and our children. I think there are plenty of examples in the Bible of God’s protecting people (children) in the midst of horrible ungodliness and preserving them for Himself.

    Though I obviously have some responsibilities, ultimately it is God’s job to protect my children. It is my calling to spread the gospel and love others.

    And judging by my study of scripture, sometimes God’s going to ask me to minister in ways that don’t make any logical sense and that may even seem dangerous or foolish. Then His power and protection and love for me and for those to whom I am ministering are all the more evident and He receives greater glory.

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