So, I Read Matthew 25. Where do I begin?
From the experience of one Orthodox parish (St. Brigid Fellowship)
- Prepare. Go to confession and Holy Communion. Then go forth…
- Look with fresh eyes. “Who are the people in your neighborhood?…”
- Meet your neighbors one at a time. Learn their names. This effort is person to person, not group to group.
- Come near to the suffering to find their need. Don’t tell them what it is.
- Keep boundaries, but find ways around walls.
- Ask gentle questions; then be silent for the answers. You will not hear otherwise. Take time to hear their stories.
- Be a companion and friend, not one who stands above.
- Look for the Image they bear, not the graffiti that covers it.
- Know that more than you change them, they will teach you.
- Pray always for them that by God’s grace you may pray with them.
- Practice this for a while, and then we’ll talk about “Programs”
Start with what you are able. One step at a time, not always in the same order….
- Offer a cup of coffee. Host a meal or maybe just hand out sack lunches.
- Open up a space (office or outdoors) at a time you can keep to so your neighbors can depend on you. Even for an hour or two a week.
- Outreach. Walk to streets to meet your neighbors. Tell them where you are.
- Offer mail address service at the church. Mail call at the office hours.
- Offer phone number message service. Messages available at office hours.
- Stock a closet of warm jackets, socks, ponchos, tarps, sleeping bags and other life savers.
- Offer hygiene supplies and, better yet, a place to wash up.
- Don’t give cash but offer bus tokens, meal vouchers, laundry service…
- Stock a food pantry. Find resources like Food Bank, markets. Help get Food Stamps
- Provide lockers if possible
- Computer, internet access with filters and safeguards
- Emergency Micro-bank for specific needs like birth certificates or transition to housing
- Referral to services…Help with the paperwork… Walk through the process with them if you can. Be a companion
(via Focus North America)