Herald Journal Columns
Aug. 1, 2005, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Service of the faithful makes world a better place

By Rev. Bill Baldwin. Prairie Community Church, Lester Prairie

What would the world be like without faithful church people? I wouldn’t even want to imagine such a place.

This world is a dramatically better place because people freely give of themselves, their time, energy, resources, and relationships to contribute to the common good.

I know so many people who serve so faithfully at churches all over the country, and for that matter, all over the world. They don’t get paychecks, they may not even get any formal recognition at all. Those faithful servants of the church go about their work, year in and year out, knowing nothing more than that they are being faithful to their God.

The vast majority of hospitals and helping agencies that we now take for granted began as outreaches of local churches or denominations. Long before institutions found ways to make big business out of health care, God’s people were ministering to the sick and dying in response to hearing about Christ doing the same in his lifetime. Church people realized, early on, that to help the sick is a Christian calling.

Many of the earliest schools were outgrowths of Christian mission efforts. After food, clothing, and shelter, people needed to know how to read, write, and do arithmetic to be able to get jobs that support families. People knew, early on, that providing education was a way to be servants of Christ.

You have no doubt heard of Habitat for Humanity. They are an agency of church people who volunteer to build housing for low income people. It is a lot easier to send a check than to swing a hammer or operate a saw, but people flock to offer their vacation time to give less fortunate families a new start.

Area residents put in long hours when asked to help with Kids against Hunger. It takes a leap of faith to believe that the bags of food being filled in Lester Prairie will feed real people in Africa, Iraq, or some similar place of need. That said, people come out in droves to join in the fun of packing a hot dish mix that may make a life or death difference in the community the food reaches.

When I think of all the church people I have known through the years and all the work they have done out of the kindness of their hearts, it staggers me. Cooking, cleaning, sewing, building, teaching, assembling, and so much more, with the sole desire being to help others have better lives.

The “bottom line” is that doing volunteer church work isn’t going to make you rich. Doing hours and hours of church work may not even make your church grow, or create much attention for your church in the community.

But, even so, countless hours are spent on church boards and committees, caring for a building, mowing, and generally being a blessing by the tender care of the facility, done out of people’s love for their church.

Sunday school teachers give time week after week preparing lessons, teaching them, cleaning up, and doing it all again and again. Something they say or do may make a lifetime impression on a child; or may be just what is needed to connect with a child who desperately needs someone to care.

I appreciate every person who gives freely in community service through the church, as well as everyone who teaches Sunday school, or confirmation, or release time. Parents who volunteer are teaching their kids to be volunteers.

May God richly bless the lives of those who give their precious time and resources for the greater good. It has always been how things have gotten done in this great country.

Next time your church asks you to step up and serve, say “yes,” and have the time of your life doing it. And, even better, find something at your church that you can do to help that no one else even knows about. It can be just your little secret gift to the church.

Add something to the life of your church through service you provide without any knowledge or recognition. God knows very well what you are doing.

Blessings and peace, and keep up the great work!

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