For the last few years, I’ve volunteered in a project teaching underprivileged youngsters. I was brought up in a typical Indian upper-middle-class family, and for most of my life, I’ve lived in an affluent neighborhood of the city where I was raised and have enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. So it was bit of a culture shock to set foot in the slums and experience life on a totally different level.
In India, there’s a great contrast between affluent people who are well-educated and have good manners, and the lower classes. It’s a challenge to teach them good communication skills, etiquette, and values, but it’s also given me a lot of fulfillment and satisfaction and helped me understand the mindsets and heartcries of the people I once looked down upon. I can see that they’re eager to improve their lives by their eagerness to learn. I also see by their quick progress that they have as much potential as children from families who can afford to attend the best schools.
The Bible tells us that good works done in the service of those who need it can be a witness to the world and glorify God.1 Jesus put a lot of emphasis on meeting people’s needs. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, welcomed and comforted the oppressed, the marginalized, and those on the fringes of society. He saw great potential in everyone. He looked at people with weaknesses and told them that they were “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.”2 Everyone, whether rich or poor, is created in God’s image and is very precious to Him.
Volunteering to serve, whether in an educational project for the underprivileged or in a neighborhood clean-up program, is a great way to minister to our communities. It gives us a chance to get to know people right where they are, understand their problems and burdens, and build close relationships. When others see that it is Jesus’ love that motivates us to serve in this manner, it opens the door for a deeper witness for Him.
Jesus said that He did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.3 By ministering to the needs of others, we reflect the love of Jesus, who ministered to the whole person, physical and spiritual, and we glorify God.