Ministry is Being Faithful in the Little Things

Pao de Quiejo

Making Pão de Queijo for one of the Betânia girls birthday party… It was the first birthday she’s been able to celebrate.

” … You’re not looking for the big things, you’re looking for the day after day. You’re not looking for the flashy but the faithful ones…” Chris Burns, Faithful 

Many times we confuse ministry for the stages, the big events, the packed out meetings, the music, the messages, etc. While these are sometimes a part of ministry, they in and of themselves are not the ministry the Lord has called us too. Here in Brasil, God is teaching me that ministry is being faithful in the little things, in the day after day living.  Serving isn’t teaching a lesson, leading a group, or being in the front, most people can do all of those things. Teachers, preachers, and worship leaders are a dime a dozen.  Serving is being willing to get your hands dirty by doing the difficult and undesirable. Serving is re-mopping the floor, with a smile, after someone once again dirtied the floor you worked hard to clean. Because everything that we do, EVERY SINGLE THING we must do as unto the Lord, both the things that others see and praise us for, and the things that no one will ever acknowledge.

I have been guilty too of thinking that ministry is glamorous. Yes, there are moments that one gets to see big and powerful, fun things, but those moments are ALWAYS preceded by the day after day little moments one gives their all to.

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” – Luke 16:10

Center Do Recife

With Nany (left) and Mirella the full time employees at Betânia, Shores of Grace. Here we were on our way to Center do Recife to purchase the items we needed for the BBQ, Amor do Pai banquet. It was a long ride and a fun adventure.

Honestly, there is nothing glamorous about being a missionary. There is nothing fabulous about giving all one’s life to serve another. Don’t get me wrong, I am having a blast here.  I love this country and all that I get to do here. But it isn’t about the flashy things and it isn’t flashy. Talking to a lady boy whose body is full of scars, on the streets while he tells me he wants bigger breasts isn’t flashy. Painting the dirty nails of a street worker while her next client looks on, isn’t glamorous. But  we love, we do the hard work, we spend our energy, time and money and live our lives for others because God is worth it, and they are worth it too.

The cost of ministry is often far greater than the price we want to pay. We go into things expecting this Hollywood type of life in ministry with signs and wonder and miracles all over the place; when in reality the most successful ministers and ministries are the ones who’ve risked their lives, who’ve slept on dirt floors, who take cold showers, who have up-rooted their entire families to a different country, sell all their possessions and live simply out of obedience. They are the ones who hug the lepers and befriend the least of these, these are the ones who clean and prepare a feast for the prostitute, the transvestite, the widow, the fatherless, who love, and smile and press on when they’ve had little to no help, or have felt alone, rejected and misunderstood.

Jesus isn’t going to admonish us on the day we stand before Him about the amount of people who attended our meetings or enjoyed our music. He isn’t going to ask us about how many people  we saw healed or prayed for. He is going is going to remind us about the ones we loved well, the ones we fed, clothed, visited and cared for.

prep

Banquet prep. It was amazing to see an entire group of people pull together to clean, do yard work, cook, grill,  decorate, build a fire, then tear down and clean again. All in order to honor the daughters of God. Indeed the ministry of Shores of Grace is one of full surrender, love and service.

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” – Matthew 25:40

This is my new reality. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love learning how to be faithful in the day after day. Because the ultimate reward is Him. My reward isn’t in public recognition, fame, or even the praises of man. My eternal, ever lasting reward is the one who will stand before me and say ” Well done my good and faithful servant”.

And so I challenge you, live the day after day for the one who lived all of His days for you.

 This is a 22 minute documentary on the issue of human trafficking here in Brasil. Some of my friends from here at Shores of Grace are featured in this documentary. It is worth your time, I recommend you take your time to watch.

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Comic Art and Ministry Come Together

In my last blog post, I discussed 6 Reasons to Join a Ministry. This past Sunday, I had an opportunity to participate in one as a temporary volunteer.

My home church’s children’s ministry hosted an annual carnival that journeys from the typical Sunday format and incorporates at least four times as many teachers. This year’s carnival featured pie tossing, face painting, a show in a fully glow-in-the-dark room, several games, and more.

Part of the “and-more” included a section where the children posed for a quick self-portrait of themselves. Because the carnival saw over 400 children attend over the course of two services, it became apparent that multiple artists were needed.

That’s where I came in! I was invited to sit along three other colleagues to use my talent in drawing to tackle the daunting yet extremely fun task of drawing these youth. I’ve drawn for fun since about six years old, albeit much less since I started college. After drawing a character for the missions ministry a several months ago, I was recommended to partake in the carnival.

The children had a blast! Excited about the possibility of getting their face painted without the hindrance of having to ask a guardian to shell out some cash, the 3-6 year olds lined up to receive a portrait in their likeness. Few actually held still the whole time, but who could blame them? Elsewhere about the room, other exciting activities raged on.

Using art skills to draw children caricatures last Sunday was a fun variation of ministry.

My colleagues included Linda, a professional artist who does illustration in corporate, freelance, ministry, and just-for-fun settings (and has her own website), as well as Jason and Lloyd, two comic art students from the Kubert School of Cartooning and Graphic Art in New Jersey. Needless to say, I was rather intimidated next to these comic art geniuses. However, they were all reassuring and non-patronizing, which was a relief.

They also taught me a great deal. Just by observing Linda at work, I picked up some techniques for getting a proportionate face shape and  realized that putting the same spare sheet under every artwork that I did would save a lot of papers from going to waste–my marker could bleed onto the same substitute sheet each instead of on fresh new ones.

Jason also gave some helpful hints. He recommended comic art as a great fallback plan or side hobby even if someone isn’t pursuing it as their main career, and advised that people should always find a way to make progress in an activity that they enjoy.

These artists’ enthusiasm for drawing was catchy; I was greatly inspired to continue drawing regularly. Even if my art won’t bring in six figures, I know that it is beneficial for at least three things. Drawing is 1) a relaxing activity, 2) a great tool for exporting ideas from your mind on paper for others to see, and 3) a way to put smiles on children’s faces, as we did for over 400 last Sunday.

Interested in sharing your unique ministry experiences? Feel free to write on this site as a guest blogger! Click “register” on the life.nyack.edu homepage.

6 Reasons to Join a Ministry

During the Spring 2012 semester, several Nyack College students met Kurt, a bright, friendly man with a huge smile and loads of passion for what he does. Kurt seemed as if he could get along with every person he meets. While setting up a lit display in the NYC Campus student lounge, he explained his reason for visiting the school.

Kurt wasn’t selling gym memberships or recruiting students into the military. He invited Nyack College to join him at Inspire Sports Camp‘s Northeast location in New Jersey for the summer as counselors and coaches.

CTA button for Blog ATSThroughout the year, Kurt and millions of other people are excited to be a part of one unique genre of activity. This engagement encourages the use of your giftings, passions, and fields of expertise. There are few limits to its manifestations; as long as you have the ability, you can use it here. When executed correctly, this recreation is so fulfilling, rewarding, and, dare I say, fun, that you’ll find yourself looking forward to the next occasion each time you go.

I’m talking about ministry here!

In a general sense, ministry is an opportunity for you to help others while pointing them to God, whether in your family, work environment, church, et cetera. For the sake of this post, we’ll discuss six reasons why you should get involved in an organized ministry–a group most often at (but not limited to) your church where you join others for a distinct cause–ASAP.

Quite a few Nyack College students will help out at Inspire Sports Camp–not for pay or incentives, but to invest into the lives of children.

1) You get to serve God in an organized setting. Is there anything in life that is not structured, maintained, and orderly, yet still successful? Don’t rack your brain too hard on that question, I didn’t–the majority of the time the answer is no. Ministries adhere to this law with no exception: lots of time, dedication, and prayer goes into ministries that wish to be effective. Like any other organization, they consist of leaders, members, resources, and a vision.

Participating in ministry makes you part of a team striving to accomplish the extraordinary, whether preserving the church property through housekeeping or persuading others to Christ with evangelism. You also receive mentorship from the ministry’s leaders, whether directly (you and the leader mutually recognize a mentor/mentee relationship) or indirectly (their behavior, decisions, and attitude affects your own as you analyze them in action). Seeing how a ministry works, you may even be encouraged to begin your own! With God’s help, of course.

2) You serve God and people, bringing your acquired skills, ideas, and experiences to the table. Love is a verb, right? It’s an action. We show love to God and people by our sacrifices, our time, and our zeal. To God, love is the biggest deal. As stated in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

The love displayed when you place a helping of free food on a disadvantaged person’s plate, give medical attention to civilians from another country, or put sincere energy and feeling into your gifted performing art as people watch being left with an indelible mark on their hearts. This is surely augmented when you do it for the Lord, as suggested in Matthew 6:33–not a bad way to spend your time at all.

3) You gain fellowship with other believers. Fellowship is a big deal that few people purposely choose to live without. Many folk are willing to hang out with acquaintances who have compromising values, all for the sake of company. Why not bypass that option and get to know the wonderful people in your local community of believers? If you were to ask me the #1 way to get to know people in a church, whether large or small, I would conclude ministry without much of a second thought.

Check it out: you join a group of dedicated people who joined the same ministry with intent to use similar skills to pursue a shared goal. You work side by side with them, and most likely will recognize them outside of the ministry during service or even in your neighborhood. They might have some other like-minded friends who all want to hang out. Before you know it, you’ve fostered a whole new social circle. Voila! No need to pat yourself on the back; your new friends can do so for you.

4) You build on your skill sets. Looking to list work experience? Start with your ministry! Explain why serving as the graphics design, administrative assistant, or sound engineer at your church wouldn’t count as relevant experience on a resume? I learned acting, puppeteering, and child care skills at my church, and developed a myriad of other abilities both there and in other ministry venues. Colossians 3:23-25 states “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord,” right? You can live this out in ministry, all the while perfecting your craft and loving every minute of it.

I acted as a “nerd” with my church’s drama ministry. We performed this play circa 2007 for the church’s youth ministry. Good times!

5) You enjoy purpose. So, you decided to dedicate a Saturday morning or weekday afternoon to participating in a God-ordained ministry? Ever grow tired and start to think that your effort is a waste? Unless the ministry has been sorely mismanaged, think again. Chances are you are exactly where God wants you to be, when God wants you there.

The fact that you selected that activity over all others (most likely as a volunteer) and you’re sticking to it is monumental. You’re absolutely filling a void and doing your part to assist in works for Christ, whether through charity, soul winning, or encouraging the brethren. Now that’s purpose. Remember, never get tired of doing good!

6) You can develop leadership skills. The ability to lead is cultivated–no one acquires it overnight. Ministry is a perfect place to develop leadership skills, and in every ministry, they are direly needed. Without people participating in ministry for the right reasons, things have a tendency to fall apart.

Be humble. Be diligent. Be thorough in every assignment you receive, whether exciting or monotonous. People will take notice, and when the timing is right, you may be given more responsibility.

There are all too many positive reasons to join or begin a ministry. Whether you aren’t employed or you’re holding down two jobs and a family, you can still dedicate some time to get involved. Opportunities abound at your church, your local organization, or from a God-imparted vision. Go for it!

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