Do you really stop, look, and listen in the middle of your church and
neighborhood? If you do, you will notice a multitude of needs. There is a
college student who has had to drop out of school for lack of funds. Over here
there are numbers of elderly folk without sufficient support from children, who
need transportation, friendship, and other aid. Turn in another direction and
listen hard. You will hear single parents, divorced and widowed people,
struggling financially and emotionally to be "both mother and father" to
children. They often don't seem all that poor and threadbare to the eye, but a
sensitive ear will hear the anguish.
One of the reasons we do not "stop, look, and listen" is because we do know
how many needs there are out there, and we are afraid. Afraid of
what? There appear to be two major fears. First, we do not know how to make
contact; we are afraid of "breaking the ice." Second, we do not think we
have the resources to help; we are afraid of failure. Let's look at the
first fear. Many of us do not know how to approach another person who is
suffering. We know how difficult it is to ask for help or to admit weakness,
and we do not wish to embarrass or hurt the person further.
Can you actually create these contact? Absolutely. Here are some simple
suggestions. On the most basic level, you must have a general demeanor of
"neighborliness." Smiles, waves, facial expressions must be open and warm,
even (especially!) in chance meetings. Or, if you hardly know a person, develop your relationship through social gestures. By "social gestures" we mean efforts simply to demonstrate a desire to know the person better. . . The most basic social gesture is
One last quote that I enjoyed.
Christian ministers of mercy are unique in that they intentionally and systematically seek to build bridges with all the people around them at home, at work, and at church. They do this to discover needs and to create a climate in which others can share their weaknesses.