Ministry on the Margins at Amherst COG

We were familiar with Amherst, because my dad pastored here for about 5 years and it’s my wife’s hometown. So in many ways, coming here was literally coming home. There was not an awkward “getting-to-know-everyone period” when we arrived.

Our church didn’t have any outreach programs at the time. God had been re-laying the foundation of ministry in our church: what it means to be saved, what a disciple is and the fact that we are called to join God in building the Kingdom. All of that is good, but getting the people moving, well that’s a different story. Our church is full of loving, wonderful people, but as you know, once you get out of the habit getting back in to it can be tough.

Community outreach can look like many things: feeding the hungry, Bible studies in the local prison, or helping out at the soup kitchen. But, what about a game of bingo? I just casually announced one Sunday that we were looking for a way to get out in the community to show the love of Christ. After the service, one of our ladies, who had worked at the local nursing home, met me at the door and said that it was always looking for people to come and spend time with the residents. So we were off! I had never thought much of bingo and how much it could mean to people. But to a group of people who largely get to go nowhere, having visitors is one of the greatest gifts they receive. Bingo is a huge deal to them. It’s not like we were going every week, we only go once a month, but the impact has been remarkable. We meet at Fairmont Crossing, our local nursing home, at 10 AM and we are usually finished by 12:30 PM. The people there can’t believe that we take the time out of a Saturday to come hang out with them. The people who work there always have a few stories of people who have been waiting all month long for bingo Saturday.

Those of us who are in involved in the outreach are learning firsthand how important it is to just simply spend time with people. Playing bingo is secondary to the fact that we are making the effort to be there with them. You have probably heard the saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  I wish I would conclude this with a story about someone being led to the Lord, but I can’t. But what I can tell you is that bridges are being built and relationships are being made. These people are learning that we care about them and that is the foundation for sharing the good news of Jesus. I can also tell you that since we have begun this outreach, one of our members has started going there every Sunday after church and conducting a service for them. I am excited to see the fruit that will come from these two outreach programs that I believe are working together to build the Kingdom.

Jeremy Day

Amherst Church of God