Community Outreach

God is wanting to connect with some people around you.
Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.  John 4:35b (ESV) 

 Sometimes it is hard to see the fields if we are removed from them.  There are many who are working in the fields/communities and it is clear to them that the fields are ripe.   

 Communities can have different forms such as the places where we live, work or play, however some of us play in all of these places.    

 I have often said that it is sad if our church community hinders us from interacting at a deeper level with these other communities. I do want to acknowledge that some of our church communities are deeply connected through various means with the communities around them.   

Some of these community engagements include activities such as a food bank, a soup kitchen, an opp-shop, English classes, budgeting assistance, sports activities, nursing home visits, counselling services, neighbour watch, to mention a few.   

Sometimes I wonder what is holding us back from making inroads into our communities. I do not believe that they have closed the door to us. However maybe they have closed the door to some of our antiquated approaches.  Does that mean that what we have to do has to be profound?  No! When I look at Jesus, I see the way that He connected was often in simple ways. Can you get any more simple than asking for a drink of water?  

Could a drink of water have such a profound effect? 
 Yes, for the woman at the well it was a question that was simple but opened so many other questions. The first question being “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”  John 4:9  ESV. 

 This encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well had to cross a few barriers.  These barriers were higher because of the cultural expectations of the day. 

  •  A Samaritan – Looked down on because of their ethnicity and different religious viewpoints.  
  • A woman on her own – A man would not address a woman in most cases, especially one on her own.  
  • A woman who appeared to be an outcast – The conversation revealed a woman who was an outcast as a result of her failed marriages and present lifestyle. This points to the fact that she was drawing water in the middle of the day and not when the women would normally draw water. 

 But Jesus crossed the barriers in the simplest ways by asking for a drink of water.  I am excited to hear the stories of our churches that are engaging with their communities. However as individuals just being in the community, interacting, being available and building relationship gives us an opportunity to encounter people with Jesus. Jesus has a way of opening the conversations we are involved with to speak into deep issues of the soul.  We may ask the question are our communities really ripe for harvest; are they ready for the living water that Jesus has to offer?   

 We will never know until we sit at the well and connect. Sometimes it is a long journey.  Some do this connecting better than us, but that is no excuse for not starting the journey which may be as simple as asking for a drink of water. Sometimes I have found people are ready to connect, to open up, when I am not expecting deep encounters. Sad to say it often happens when I am just wanting to keep to myself.  If I was at that well instead of Jesus I might have waited until the woman left and then drawn  my own water. I remember taking a train ride from Rockhampton to Townsville with a friend named Alan Brown.  We were in the café and I was trying to do some work on my computer. However, Alan just being Alan was talking to every Tom, Dick and Harry in the train’s bar, or should I say café.  It became so noisy that I had to stop my so called work and join in the conversation. In that “café” there was a Detective, an Architect and a Minister. I would have thought this was the beginning of a joke. But no, it was an opportunity to do the most important job that God had called us all to do – to stop and converse with some people at the well.  A few months later my wife and I were having dinner with that Architect and his family at his place.  God opens doors at times when we least expect it, and it maybe in encounters that are as simple as sharing a drink of water.  

 Could our conversations have such profound outcomes? 
 O God open our eyes to see that the harvest is ripe and help us to reengage with the communities within which we find ourselves.    

 John 4:39-42 (ESV) Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of his word.  They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.” 

 God is wanting to connect with the people around you. 

Rex Rigby
National Superintendent