“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore,
to send out workers into his harvest field.
Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves
Following in Christ’s footsteps is a goal we should all aspire to. Jesus searched out the sick, the lonely, the outcasts of society and found them to be the most receptive to the ministry based on love. Two millennia later, much has changed, but much has remained the same. We still walk among sick, lonely, and despondent people. In many ways, they are treated no better than those in Christ’s time. Mother Theresa is known today for recognizing this and building a mission in the image of Jesus, not to preach the word, but to prove Christ’s love for all his children.
This mission, to show Christ’s love, is my mission. We don’t need to travel back in time 2000 years to show it, nor do we need to travel to India to find those in need. The need exists around us today. The effort is not severe, it does not take extreme strength, wealth, or intelligence to minister. What it takes is a dedication towards improving one life by any amount. God will provide the rest.
Austin and surrounding communities from San Antonio to Waco have a substantial homeless population. Much has been done to address the issue and many innovative approaches to providing services to the homeless have been tried.
Jesus ministered to the crowd (Matthew 14:14) before he provided the loaves and fish (Matthew 14:17). We’ve all heard what some attribute to a Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for day, teach him to fish, and you will feed him for a lifetime”. This thought was also captured as Maimonides’ eighth degree of the duty of charity: to anticipate charity by preventing poverty. I believe this concept of preventing poverty actually originates in Jesus’ teachings as told by Matthew.
Teach first, feed second and by so doing, Jesus was able to feed thousands with five loaves and two fishes and had much left over.
“So he replied to the messengers,“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.23Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me”
Our goals are more modest. We wish to inspire the homeless, to pick them up, teach them their value to God and to people. Specifically, we wish to provide the basic tools that start them on a journey out of homelessness. Many of us take these tools for granted. How to present ourselves so that we appear non-threatening. How to interact so we can be accepted in group situations. How to stay healthy so we can be productive. Without these basic skills, it is frankly impossible to bootstrap oneself into self-sufficiency. If we can prepare our community in such a way that they stumble less, we will have succeeded.
13Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.14Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the eldersof the church to pray over them and anoint them with oilin the name of the Lord.
In the past, churches have been very physical. They have a sanctuary in the town square and congregants come to the building on Sundays for services. Now in the age of the internet, there are online ministries where services are held online for those homebound or otherwise unable to attend. Neither of these styles work for the homeless community.
We see ourselves as planting seeds everywhere we go, possibly impacting one or more individuals, making their lives slightly better each time we return. We will be in each place long enough to impact more than just the physical, but not so long as to create dependencies. Much like God left the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve. God gave Adam and Eve the opportunity to eat from the tree of good and bad. Although we are taught the Garden of Eden story as an example of temptation, it can also be seen as a lesson on independence and growth. God returned in the evening, and upon learning of Adam and Eve having eaten from the tree of knowledge, he sent them out to work the ground. Our ministry sees this as a good outcome. We pray that those we serve will find and eat from the tree of knowledge which can only be done on their own volition. We pray that one day they will be able to know good and bad and be productive in the presence of God.
Staffing a ministry can be extremely challenging. If it is a permanent calling there is a covenant between the community and their pastors and deacons. This requires a large commitment of time, and resources that can present a challenge to any attempt at progress. Most people have extremely busy lives. Although people can be extremely generous with their time, they recognize and are realistic about the challenge of a long-term commitment. This alone can keep many gifted people from considering supporting this type of ministry.
The mobile nature of our ministry provides a different dynamic to this issue. There is no need for long-term commitments. There may be some who are able to commit through each rotation and there may be some who can only help once. Some may be able to help for the full time of a location, or may only be able to serve for a limited amount of time. We envision needs that can be met regardless of the level of commitment that the volunteers can provide.
We do feel it is important to provide strong spiritual direction in the form of gifted ministers and deacons. This does go beyond volunteering but yet is much more accessible to ministers and deacons already with a call or in between calls. What we would like to see is ministers from various denominations and congregations, with the full support of their congregations, sponsor a location every few months. The mobile nature of Airstream Ministries lends itself well to this vision.
For more information, or to see how you can help, please contact us using the form below.