In my two years working in Outreach at University, I’ve been asked many interesting questions about the churches and organizations we choose to partner with or support. Questions like, why do we support a ministry at Church A if they believe or do ministry X? Also, why partner with Organization B in Ministry Y if they also do Ministry Z? I’ve been asked why we go on a mission to Country C instead of Country D.
In my time in the military, I had the unique opportunity to spend a few years working with many different militaries in bilateral and multinational training. Many times, these nations were not considered allies or partners of the United States. They were not hostile enemies, but their population did not typically trust or value American principles.
From that time in service, I learned that there were two events we always needed to add to the schedule when we trained together: a meal and a soccer game. When we break bread with someone you don’t know or trust, the meal presents an opportunity to learn about each other and build a bond of mutual understanding. A meal is an opportunity to share food, culture and ideas in a relaxed setting, enjoying the company of each other. Additionally, sports like soccer reveal character and teamwork potential while emphasizing fun and fair play. Eating, playing and working alongside one another allows two seemingly disparate groups to come together and find common ground.
As Christians, when we seek out those with whom we do not agree, break bread, and find common understanding, we can then carefully and prayerfully go from there to build Christ-centered relationships with our brothers and sisters. If we desire for people to move closer to Jesus, we first need to build a relationship of trust with them. Not until we have mutual trust, a bridge that can withstand the weight of tough conversations, can we talk about the difficult subjects. When we do this the right way with the right heart, we will all move closer to Christ and living a God-honoring life.
Every single time I’ve effectively witnessed to someone, we already had a relationship of trust. They were the ones who asked me about Jesus, my faith or custom. Come be part of an outreach event, or look for those in our community that don’t act or think like you. I guarantee, it will bring us all closer to Christ.
For more information about the Outreach Ministry, what we do, and how you can get involved, contact Steve Ryan or Pauline Rodrigues, subscribe to the Outreach Newsletter, or visit the Events Page on the church website.