Discipling Christians to love each other like Jesus does—wholly, without holding anything back—is hard.
It’s a challenge for most pastors to find a way to inspire church members to develop a heart for those outside their communities. As followers of Jesus, it’s difficult for many of us to think about giving away our time or attention to strangers when we’ve already packed our days full with our own families and our church community. There is often little room for the Spirit to move us in quiet ways. To prompt us into actions that move us away from the familiar and the comfortable. To venture out into the thick of the struggles all around us—to love others, tangibly, like Jesus.
But what if there were a way to bring Scripture to life for the people in your church? A practical way to “hit the pause button” each night for a week, sharing experiences at home that help them catch a glimpse of the pains of hunger, the discomfort of dirty clothes, and the many needs of the world? To get everyone, from kids to young adults to seniors, excited to dive in and share God’s love with others by putting their faith into action?
It’s all right there in Matthew 25—the key to loving others like Jesus. It’s feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, caring for the sick, the stranger and the imprisoned.
And whatever we do for “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,” Jesus tells us, we do for Him. Often, that takes developing empathy first.
“We think we know what suffering is,” says Jim Duran, lead pastor of The River Community Church in Ventura, California. “We think we know what going without is. And I don’t think we had a clue.”
When Jim first heard about Matthew 25 Challenge from a World Vision representative, he was hesitant. Like most pastors, he was busy. His church was already involved in the community and had several ministries going on. But a video revealing the plight of children in extreme poverty around the world struck a chord with Jim. He thought about the needs of the community that his church wasn’t addressing. And he thought about the people in his congregation who weren’t serving yet in any capacity. That’s when he decided that bringing World Vision’s Matthew 25 Challenge could be an incredible opportunity to activate his church.
“This would be something that we could actually do together,” Jim remembers thinking. “The whole church could actually do this. And so, I was inspired.”
The Matthew 25 Challenge introduces congregations to practical ways to gain new perspective together, as families. Simple daily challenges encourage people to step into the shoes of our vulnerable brothers and sisters around the world—a taste of what it’s like for people who are hungry, thirsty, and in need.
Jim found easy tasks like sleeping on the floor to be more eye-opening than he’d anticipated: “My wife went, ‘OK, I’m going to take the couch and you can lay out, but I’ll be here with you.’ So I realized we’re not as tough as we think we are. We don’t really understand what these people go through on a daily basis.”
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SOURCE: Charisma News