Our Ministry Matters

As I sit here writing this newsletter article, it’s the day after Memorial Day.  On this day after the traditional opening weekend of the summer season, we have already begun our summer outreach ministries in our community.  Yesterday before the start of Jenison’s Memorial Day parade, cars were pouring into our parking lot enjoying the free parking.  Members of our church manned tables by the church’s north entrance laden with coffee pots, water and lemonade dispensers, trays of cookies, and stacks of ministry fliers advertising our summer ministries.  This Memorial Day parking lot ministry has been known for years as “Park ‘n Praise.”

On Saturday morning before Memorial Day, I posted an announcement on our church Facebook page inviting people to park in our lot, to enjoy our refreshments, and to take our ministry fliers.  My daughter Laura shared the post on the Hudsonville/Georgetown/Jenison Informed events group site.  Several people responded to the post, sharing the post, asking questions, and making comments.  The comments were all positive.  One woman said, in response to our invitation, “Nice! Thanks!”  I especially appreciated the final comment from another woman: “Thank you for the hospitality.  I have been parking there for years now and really appreciate you opening the lot up to every parade goer.”  She ended her comment with a :) .

After the parade finished and I brought our tarp and lawn chairs back to our house, I stopped at the refreshment tables to see how things were going with Sheri and Laura.  As the parking lot cleared as rapidly as the traffic would allow, a few people came to our tables for a cookie or something to drink.  One middle aged man who came up was a military veteran wearing his uniform.  He was grateful to be able to get a cup of cold water from us.  An older woman came up for a refill on coffee and thanked us for our ministry.  She even insisted on giving us a donation even though we assured her that this service was free.  She wanted to do her part to support this ministry.  I was grateful for the opportunity that we have taken to offer hospitality to our neighbors on a day when they were out in force to enjoy our city’s parade.

Now that Park n’ Praise is finished and as we prepare for our Youth Fishing Derby this Wednesday, Vacation Bible School in July, and our Chicago Mission Trip in August, it’s natural to ask and to wonder if our ministries to the community are effective and if they truly matter.  Serving that military man a cup of water and serving the woman another cup of coffee remind me of some significant words of our Lord Jesus: “…if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42).

Jesus says that even giving a cup of cold water to someone in need is significant.  Jesus not only notices it, he promises that such an act of compassion will be rewarded.  The service we do for our neighbors in Jesus’ name matters.  Jesus notices it, is pleased by it, and promises to bless it with a reward from him.

Knowing that our ministry matters, let’s serve our neighbors with these summer ministries with diligence and joy knowing “that [our] labor in the Lord is not in vain” (I Corinthians 15:58).

Pastor Mark

Mark Bennink