Heart’s desire in practice
As I look at our church I am aware that there are many ministries that have arisen over the years that have started with individual members of the church who have had a ‘heart’s desire’ to see something happen. These are most conspicuous in ministry with people who are poor or in some way in social need or disadvantage.
One evening more than twenty years ago Sue was sitting at home when she felt God tell her to go to Brighton station. She was someone who had a heart for those who were experiencing unplanned pregnancies. In reluctant obedience she drove to the station. After a short whole she saw a woman carrying a small suitcase leave the station and begin to walk in the direction of the abortion clinic. Sue followed slowly feeling ‘how can I just go and talk to this woman?’ When it was clear that she was indeed headed for the clinic Sue plucked up courage and spoke to the woman. How she would love to report that this woman changed her mind as a result; she does not know the outcome. But this was an experience which caused Sue to launch Alternatives, a ministry to such women. Over the last two decades thousands of women have been contacted and helped as a result of Sue’s ‘heart’s desire’ coming to reality.
Some years before that a small group of young married members of the church came to the elders and asked for permission to start a soup kitchen. We were of course happy to encourage them to do so. Since that initiative was launched nearly thirty years ago there have been several expressions of that compassion and enlargements of the ministry: soup and friendship on the street; a drop in; a residential home for twelve adults; a market garden; a farmhouse for people to get the opportunity to live independent but supported lives; a night shelter. This has been umbrellaed under the ministry Friends First.
Or what about the women who wanted to reach out to the many prostitutes in Brighton (as a conference town this is a major social issue in our city)? They soon found that many women had been trafficked for sex from Africa or the former communist bloc. It was a privilege to work with the authorities to get some of these women returned to their homelands.
Debt is a huge and growing problem worldwide as the recession bites. One young woman had a tremendous heart to provide support and guidance to people who were in the debt trap and so a ministry was started for this purpose.
Not all these ministries are still being carried out but they exemplify the importance of allowing people to express their heart’s desire.
As we help people in our churches to find a place to serve – and remember God has called all to serve; no passengers – let’s not do it only on the basis of finding people to fulfil a need but rather look out for people whose eyes ‘light up’ when they are talking about a particular area of possible ministry.