Ministry Focus: House of Hope
Curriculum Writer: Jan Yount
Big Idea: God’s Kingdom is not about pity but dignity. We don’t want to add to the cycle of poverty. The cycle is not broken with more food. It’s broken with changed hearts. Meeting the need is a path toward dignity. The Kingdom is not about meeting physical needs but about the heart. Dusty is saying, “I see you and I’m in this with you.” People aren’t handed a bag of groceries, they invited to go shopping at House of Hope. According to Matthew 25, if you want to find Jesus, serve the hungry. Our proximity to hungry people obligates us to be Jesus’ hands and feet which includes kneeling down and saying, “I see you and I’m in this with you.” Matthew 25 doesn’t just tell us to meet needs but meet needs as if we are serving Jesus. When our faith benefits others it delights God. Light rises in the darkness when we roll up our sleeves.
Key Passages: Matt 25:31-46, 1 John 3:17
When I first started working at House of Hope, I was excited about meeting the needs of all our guests. I would arrive on Saturday, listen to agonizing stories, pray and give food. I saw Jesus in their eyes and wanted desperately to help. I felt good helping. One Saturday, one of our guests named Ellen, came to me to thank me for all I was doing. She painted a lovely thank you card with ribbons decorating the outside. It was clear that she spent a long time making it. On the front, she drew the picture of a beautiful stallion, and beside it, there was a small mouse. On the inside she wrote, “Thank you for helping a little mouse like me”. When I read that, I felt terrible. I realized that when we give people things, we are often making them feel like little mice. If they feel they have little worth and ability, they can become dependent and come to us continually for food. This is clearly not the way to truly help people out of poverty. I no longer felt good about what we were doing at House of Hope. I wanted to do more. I since have found that giving food needs to be accompanied by a time investment in people. We help them explore their God-given gifts and abilities. They need someone to believe in them and walk hand in hand with them as they set goals for their future. We introduce them to Jesus, the giver of an abundant life. If we are not careful, House of Hope could become simply a food pantry. If this happened, guests could become dependent on us, and this can hurt them more than help.
We all are impoverished in different ways. Some people experience material poverty; others are spiritually impoverished. Jesus asks followers to live a selfless life. If we are not helping others, perhaps we are spiritually in need. How we treat “the least of these,” can be considered a barometer of how we are doing in “denying ourselves and following Jesus.” We need each other along our life’s journey. In this sermon and community group, we can prayerfully consider our response to the underserved.
How have you been involved with/experienced the poor?
Read: I John 3:17
- According to this verse, how is giving different between a Christian and a non-Christian?
- Why do you think some people do not recognize people in need?
Read: Matthew 25:31-46
- Jesus tells us we are going to heaven based on grace, not by works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) This parable tells us that our treatment of those in need will affect our future destination. How can those facts both be true? (See James 2:14-26)
- If you looked at each person you know, and saw them through the eyes of Christ, how would your life change?
- If you see a hungry person on the street corner, is it helping or hurting them if you give money?
- If you are giving to the hungry, it will help if you give food. How can you increase the results of your gift?
- What can you do next week to help someone in need?
Prayer: Please pray that God will open our eyes to see those in need, and that we will answer His call to meet the need. Take time to share prayer requests and pray.
Weekly Prayer Focus: Pray for the spiritual mentors at House of Hope to encourage those they serve, and that God would give you new ideas how to serve the poor with dignity.
- Food Donation Bins in the lobby.
- Collection Kits (take to work, school and collect food for 1 week).