After completing the four month Cornerstone Program this past December, eight of us graduates were asked to be a part of the new ARISE Internship Program. Each of us were assigned to a project in the Eugene and Springfield area. I, along with three others, was assigned to the University of Oregon to make connections with people interested in studying the Bible and learning more about the gospel. This could potentially lead to planting a church on campus someday.
After learning of our assignment, we set out to explore the university and become familiar with the campus. After receiving some information about starting student groups and wandering around with the team for a little bit, I strayed over to a radical environmentalist meeting called “The Survival Center.” I curiously looked around at the array of literature and pamphlets that were organized on bookshelves and surveyed the room strewn with banners, provocative protest signs and various themes displayed to awaken the attention to serious problems in the world. I could tell without even meeting the group that these people were all about making a difference and they meant business.
A very nice girl welcomed me to the club and introduced herself. I asked her what their association was all about. She explained that their club oversees all the different radical clubs on campus and draws people’s attention to the problems of this world and how we can do something about them. Their literature is all about how we as individuals can team up to stand for justice and do what’s right.
…one of the biggest blessings we can receive is helping people for the sole purpose of helping them.
After explaining their mission, she asked me why I was interested in their group. I told her that I was a Christian attending an untraditional Bible college along with a few others, and that we too are protesting the injustices of this world. I also mentioned that we as Bible-believing Christians are sick and tired of the injustices that Christianity is often associated with . The word “Christian” and “Jesus” are, to many, closely tied to persecution, torture, war and oppression. But this is the complete opposite of what Jesus stood for.
I told her that we are part of a movement dedicated to making right all the wrongs that people have committed in the name of God, and we would do so by revealing and illustrating the character of Jesus through our lives while respecting the freedom of religion that each human being deserves. We both seemed surprised but satisfied with that response. I accepted her invitation to attend their next meeting.
At the meeting, we explained that we wanted to get involved in helping people in any way possible and were interested in any community service projects sponsored by their club. They introduced us to a program called Food Not Bombs, which was founded in 1980 to call attention to this fact: the amount of money that the U.S. government spends on weapons in a week could feed the whole world for a year.
Each chapter collects food that would otherwise go to waste from grocery stores, bakeries and markets, and then prepares vegan meals, which are served for free to anyone who is hungry. They work to call attention to poverty and homelessness in society by sharing food in public places and facilitating gatherings of poor and homeless people. At the time, they were feeding people every Friday and wanted to start feeding people every Sunday, so we jumped at the opportunity. Within a week, we got everything cleared with the health department (which was a miracle) and started serving healthy, free meals every Sunday to anybody that is hungry. God has blessed us incredibly and we haven’t had any trouble finding food since we started. In fact, we are overflowing with food!
They’re looking for anyone who is interested in them as individuals.
I’ve found that one of the biggest blessings we can receive is helping people for the sole purpose of helping them. Too many poor and homeless people have been turned off to religion by our very zealous efforts to feed them and clothe them while scheming to make them religious. The moment they’re sweet-talked into a religious situation, they close up because dishonest people with an agenda have burned them in the past. They’re tired of flattery and they can smell insincerity from very far away. Zeal for evangelism is great and I think we need more of it. But our zeal needs to be driven by sincerity and love for whomever we share with.
Sometimes we get so zealous in showing them their spiritual needs that we completely miss the fact that these are people with emotional and physical needs. They’re looking for anyone who is interested in them as individuals. Through our actions and our genuineness, their hearts will be touched. Instead of driving them away, they’re more likely to come back knowing that we like them for who they are; and we truly do! Most people living on the street have incredible life stories and colorful personalities, which we usually walk past and miss out on the beautiful friendship we may have with them.
Through this ministry, we’re learning a lot about our motives in outreach and Jesus’ motives in outreach. Jesus said that when we feed the hungry, we’re actually feeding Him. However, the groups of people fit for Heaven are the ones that fed the hungry without knowing it was actually Jesus they were feeding. They fed them because they were hungry.
Nick Hausted, 20, is a graduate of our 2011 Cornerstone Program and is currently participating in the ARISE Internship Program. Nick is an amazing artist who has chosen to use his talents and youthful energy to serve God.