“I’m not really religious, but I like coming to your events!” commented a student at a university in Worcester, Mass. The student was helping out at a Operation Christmas Child Packing Party our Christian club opened up to the campus community. Besides the OCC event we have also hosted social justice service events where we partnered with International Mission Board missionaries educating Syrian refugees in the Middle East. Muslim, non-religious, Buddhist and atheist students have come to our Christian events focused on serving, loving and seeking justice for the vulnerable. At these events we interweave social justice, compassionate service, and the message of Christianity. At every event students hear about why we do justice and love others while we build relationships with them. They are told about a God who “works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6, ESV) and a Savior who demonstrated his love for us by dying for us (see 1 John 4:9-10).
I grew up in the Midwest in the 1970s, a time when that whole area of the country was in a deep recession. Though my dad was a hard worker, he was laid off numerous times because a company went bankrupt or was bought out by a competitor who let all the current employees go. It was a challenging time financially for our family. On more than one occasion I remember the pastor or a deacon from our church showing up with a bag of groceries, a box of Christmas gifts or a voucher to help pay the electric bill. Our church believed that part of being a healthy congregation was caring for those in need, especially if it was a faithful family in the church.