Do no harm among people in need, part one

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Published On February 11, 2014 by Mark Snowden

A science fiction story once described an astronaut-type volunteer who was able to step into an alternate universe. As a reminder of home, his wife at the last moment handed him their baby’s rattle. In this world, the sound it made was cute and harmless. However, when the rattle was shaken in that other world, the sound waves knocked people down, broke windows, and unleashed a number of other fantastic problems. The traveler with the toy escaped unharmed. He was heralded for his bravery before he even had an opportunity to make a report. Despite the joyous homecoming in his world, just by introducing the otherwise innocent baby rattle into that other dimension, the man shaking the toy had caused unintended catastrophes.

Missouri Baptists have launched “Light Up Missouri.” The two-year campaign is the next phase of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) 10-year God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS) emphasis. The purpose of Light Up Missouri is to do servant evangelism in ministry projects in moments, days and seasons of service. This is not “social gospel.” Churches are being challenged to identify needs their community leaders consider “impossible” and approach them in a Day of Service or a Season of Service (4-6 weeks). Individuals are challenged to see a need and meet it in a Moment of Service.

Churches should seek to do no harm among people in need. Like the man shaking the baby rattle, those working among people who are different from them can do things that seem so very innocent, but have serious consequences. Followers of Jesus would never intentionally do harm, of course, but we do need to be aware of the consequences of our actions. We hope our actions can be good, but we often work in ways that create problems, even chaos. And, while recipients put up brave faces as gracious hosts, harm done may never be known as we return to our churches rejoicing in all that was done in the name of Jesus Christ.

Before medical doctors begin their practice, they are asked to take the Hippocratic Oath. Physicians seek to do no harm with their medical arts. It would be good for us to internalize a biblical equivalent Hippocratic Oath before we go out as “sent ones.”

Jesus put it this way: “Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them (Luke 6:31). For believers who follow Jesus, He has a special command that is essential to follow. “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). We must learn and apply all that we can to do no harm.

Planning for Light Up Missouri is underway in churches across our state. Teams are forming. Needs are being assessed. Budgets are being challenged. And churches are turning outward to focus upon the lost. Transforming communities is possible!

The target window for a Day of Service is Palm Sunday weekend April 12 or 13. Longer-impact Days of Service should kick off then and possibly extend into the spring and possibly summer months. And Moments of Service can be anytime!

An emphasis like Light Up Missouri keeps people in need in our hearts. When we came out of a restaurant, a man was sitting on the curb in front of where Mary Leigh, my wife, and I parked. We simply asked him if we could get him anything. I went back inside and brought him a meal – maybe his only one for the day. It was easy to witness to Bob when he saw that I cared.

God is sovereign, but His actions in our world should never be despite us. Our servant evangelism efforts in Light Up Missouri should be to work in tandem with the Lord’s will and ways. For more ideas, lists of Bible providers, and planning tips, go to www.mobaptist.org/evangelism/light. (Mark Snowden serves Missouri Baptists as evangelism/discipleship strategist (573) 556-0319 or msnowden@mobaptist.org.)

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