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Building Bridges

One of his disciples, John, told him one day, "Teacher, we saw a man using your name to cast out demons; but we told him not to,for he isn't one of our group."

"Don't forbid him!" Jesus said. "For no one doing miracles in my name will quickly turn against me. Anyone who isn't against us is for us. If anyone so much as gives you a cup of water because you are Christ's - I say this solemnly - he won' lose his reward. Mark 9: 38-41 (TLB)

Andrew Garnett, from Virginia, pastors a church that has a long-running program to serve their neighbors who are experiencing homelessness or food insecurity. Every Monday, their campus turns into a hub for people to find food and clothing, access social services, or connect with other resources. Each year they serve thousands of meals, distribute tens of thousands of pounds of groceries, and give away thousands of clothing items.

This program is run almost entirely by volunteers. Some of them are members of our church - but remarkably, most are not. The volunteers who come to serve are as varied as their city. Some are religious, while others are not. Bringing in so many volunteers from outside our congregation can sometimes make their church members worry that they might lose their Christian identity.

Indeed, they have Christians convictions they cannot compromise. But another truth of their faith is at work here. "No one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me," Jesus said (Mark 9:39). When those from outside their church join them in the work of Christ, they all become more receptive to Jesus. As they are drawn into the life-giving work of God, they have more opportunities to see the good news come alive.

Prayer: Dear God, help us reach out to others every day. Show us how we can offer compassion and hope to your children in need, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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