When Mary Slessor sailed to the African nation of Calabar (now Nigeria) in the late 1800s, she was enthusiastic to continue the missionary work of the late David Livingstone. Her first assignment, teaching school while living among fellow missionaries, left her burdened for a different way to serve. So she did something rare in that region—she moved in with the people she was serving. Mary learned their language, lived their way, and ate their food. She even took in dozens of children who’d been abandoned. For nearly forty years, she brought hope and the gospel to those who needed both.
The apostle Paul knew the importance of truly meeting the needs of those around us. He mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:4–5 that there are “different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit,” and “different kinds of service, but the same Lord.” So he served people in their area of need. For instance, “to the weak [he] became weak” (9:22).
One church I’m aware of recently announced the launch of an “all abilities” ministry approach complete with a barrier-free facility—making worship available for people with disabilities. This is the Paul-like kind of thinking that wins hearts and allows the gospel to flourish in a community.
As we live out our faith before those around us, may God lead us to introduce them to Jesus in new and fresh ways.