Need + Passion = Lifestyle Compassion Ministry

Bill and Judi Willard had no intention of establishing a regular, long-term ministry to the veterans at the Veterans Restoration Quarters (VRQ) in Asheville, NC, when they agreed to prepare and serve breakfast one Saturday as one of the projects of the Beverly Hills Baptist Church (Asheville) Inasmuch Day, but that’s what happened. That was 2008. Ten years later they and friends from their church are preparing and serving a home-cooked meal to about 100 veterans once a month. (Judi is the youngest sister of David Crocker.)

David Crocker, Founder of the Inasmuch ministry, often says: “When we do what God tells us to do, He always has more in mind.” With the Willards, it was to serve up fried okra and/or pork loin and/or made-from-scratch cake or a variety of menus to the veterans at the VRQ every month for 10+ years.

The Willards have gotten their Sunday School Class involved, too. For a while the Willards were covering the costs of the meals they served but it became more than they could do, so they asked the class to help. Now the class totally covers the costs. Also, as many as 20 members of the class have served alongside the Willards from time to time. [Read more…]

Is Compassion Seasonal?

Here’s a question for Christmas: Is compassion seasonal?

How many people do you know who are conscientious in serving people in need at Christmas but do not give it much thought at other times? Is compassion ministry another item on our Christmas To-Do list like shopping, attending parties, and the Christmas Eve service at church?

Benevolent ministry leaders are quick to lament the fact that so many people seem motivated to serve others only at Christmas. We talk about the need, even the desire, to have the Christmas spirit year round — which presumably would include serving people in need — but does it happen?

When Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you have done it [given clothes to the naked, visited the sick or imprisoned, given food for the hungry], you have done it for me,” he wasn’t thinking about Christmas.

When he told those in his hometown of Nazareth what he would be doing in his public ministry (Luke 4: 18-19) and, by implication, announced what his followers would do, he was not talking about Christmas.

How DO we perpetuate that part of the Christmas spirit that motivates us to serve people in need year round?

It begins with an understanding that compassion ministry is an indispensable part of being a follower of Jesus.  All of Scripture makes that clear, especially the Gospels.

In the remaining days of this Christmas, when most of the hectic stuff is over, why not spend a little time reflecting on how to extend the Christmas spirit well into 2012?

As you think about what you’d like to accomplish in the New Year, why not re-read the Gospel of Luke, the most compassionate of the Gospels, and listen to God’s voice to you?

The Inasmuch ministry is about motivating, equipping and deploying believers throughout the Kingdom into lifestyle compassion ministry—serving people in need using one’s life experiences, passions and skills as a matter lifestyle.

To put it another way, Inasmuch Life perpetuates that part of the Christmas spirit which leads us all to be more compassionate and generous than normal. Inasmuch Life means keeping the spirit of Christmas all the time.

Merry Christmas from the Inasmuch Team.

Inasmuch Life is Coming to Life!

Operation Inasmuch is moving in new directions. If you’ve visited the new web site or read recent eNewsletters, you know that we are piloting our new Inasmuch Life process by which churches can help more of their people enter lifestyles of compassion ministry, serving the neediest in their communities on an ongoing basis.

For many years, Operation Inasmuch has equipped churches to send their congregations out to volunteer on a single day of community service projects. In many cases, an Inasmuch Day project led to an ongoing ministry (for examples, see the Parkridge Harbor and Roosevelt’s Story videos on the website). Moreover, Dr. Crocker’s book The Samaritan Way has inspired many to enter into lifestyles of compassion ministry.

But sometimes it helps to have a plan. And that’s what we are piloting: a process by which churches can mobilize many in their congregations to serve the needy in their communities more deeply and effectively.

So far, so good! Our first Inasmuch Life pilot is well underway. Over 150 volunteers from our pilot church of 1000 stepped up to move out and serve. Most of these people had never served in a compassion ministry! Already many are engaged in a local ministry or agency, while others are still finding the right fit, and still others are going through an application process. We are thrilled that volunteers are starting at least three new mercy ministries in the church, as well.

The Senior Pastor of the first pilot church said, “This initiative has truly been an answer to my prayers for our church.” We can only thank God for answering our prayers, too, and making the first Inasmuch Life pilot a success – and a great learning vehicle! We have already modified much of the process from this first experience and will use this feedback in our next two pilots, both of which are underway.

If you are a donor to Operation Inasmuch, Inc., we want to especially thank you. We are spending a great deal of time and resources developing Inasmuch Life and have charged no fee to the pilot churches involved: your investment has made this new venture possible and is having an impact on many lives!

From August, 2011 eNewsletter


How to Change a Homeless Man’s Life

What does it take to transform the life of a homeless man?

I didn’t read Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore to answer that question, but it’s one lesson I learned from this amazing book, a book I could not put down, a book that had me laughing one minute and crying the next.

It’s a story filled with miracles. And it’s true.

Same Kind of Different as Me chronicles the lives of an international art dealer (Ron Hall) and a former sharecropper (Denver Moore) from their vastly different upbringings through the intersection of their lives starting at the Fort Worth, TX, Union Gospel Mission.

When they met, Ron had many homes; Denver had none.

I did not anticipate when I started the book that I would learn a lot about what we call “lifestyle compassion ministry,” serving those in need as a lifestyle, on an ongoing basis. But I did.

So, what DOES it take to transform the life of a homeless man? To give him hope and purpose?

Well, for one, it takes an investment of time.

Once a year acts of compassion – like building a Habitat House – have their place, for sure.  And agencies and ministries that help the poor and homeless often need one-time help for big projects. But if you are called to a ministry of transformed lives, it takes the time, consistency, and commitment to build relationships.

Denver Moore put it like this:

[Ron and his wife Debbie] “was different. One reason was they didn’t come just on holidays. Most people don’t want the homeless close to em—think they’re dirty, or got some kinda disease, or maybe they think that kind of troubled life gon’ rub off on em. They come [on a holiday]… then they go home and gather round their own table and forget about you till the next time come around where they start feelin a little guilty ‘cause they got so much to be thankful for…(p. 93)

[But Ron and Debbie would] come ever [Tuesday] and talk to the homeless folks, and not seem to be afraid of em. Talked to em like they was intelligent. I started to think Mr. And Mrs. Tuesday might be tryin to do some real good ‘stead a just makin themselves feel better ‘bout bein rich. (p. 100)

In fact, the homeless at the Mission were so shocked that Ron and Debbie spent time with them, Denver told Ron that “Folks at the mission thinks you and your wife is from the CIA!” Why? “Most folks that serve at the mission come once or twice and we never see em again. But you and your wife come ever week. And your wife always be askin everybody his name and his birthday … you know, gatherin information. Now just think about it: Why would anybody be wantin to know a homeless man’s name and birthday, if they ain’t the CIA?”

Needless to say, Ron and Debbie’s investment of time and interest had an impact on those at the Mission, and their lives as well!

I’ll share more lessons I learned from Same Kind of Different as Me in future blogs.

Read Part 2 Here

Lorraine Potter Kalal