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Bible Class

Jim McMaster - Guide to Street Work (2)

Stephen Grant

(2) Be Compassionate

Early on in our experience a contact who came to us helped me understand the vital importance of this aspect of the work. We were providing very little in terms of material helps and other soup kitchens were supplying much better food. So, I asked a young lady why she came to us and her reply was "It is not WHAT you receive that matters it is HOW you receive it that makes the difference." It is clear that those we seek to help understand not just the act of kindness but the motive that lies behind all that we do. It is important therefore that this type of work is undertaken with a heart that is moved by real Christian love for the folks we meet. This must be more than a natural compassion.

We are not called to show a human kindness to these folks, but we MUST be the channels of the Lord's compassion and this will inevitably be detectable by those who are contacted in this way. There are times when the contacts prove to be difficult and a natural kindness would not even come close to bearing with the trial that you are called to endure.

Compassion was a fundamental aspect of the Lord's ministry and likewise must be the character of all that we do in this type of outreach. (Eg “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9:36 and many others). Rather than show our love and compassion we must be channels ready to be the vehicle for the display of the Lord's love and compassion. It is important that we give without grudging or discrimination although experience will help you discern those who have real needs and others who are trying to exploit the kindness extended to them. Many say that "folks don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."There is no doubt that a kind heart is quickly evident to folks in need and dead duty is an obstacle to this type of ministry. However we must constantly keep before us the priority of letting them know what we know. I.e. ''Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15)

Remember too that you are likely to be disappointed more often than you are encouraged. Promises to meet up, come to the meetings are easily given and easily broken. Time keeping (even knowing which day of the week it is) is not a priority with this section of the community. To let someone down is perfectly normal as their life is one of continual disappointments so to fail to honour a commitment to you is no big deal. Show compassion in these situations especially and forgive even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32)