By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
ROCKVILLE, Md.—When a family in his church offered to give $30,000 toward missions, Redland Baptist Church pastor Mark Adams and leaders in his church realized the greater potential of small investments into God’s Kingdom. Rather than placing the entire donation on a single missions trip, they decided to provide $100 per individual or family to cover the cost of a service project where the individual or family sees a need.
Describing the “Shine the Light” project to his congregation, Adams explained, “The idea is for you to covenant to pray about this—asking God to show you a need—a way you can do a tangible good work that will let your light so shine before men so they will praise Him.”
He also explained the guidelines: Participants must finish their service project, first approved by pastoral staff, within 90 days of when they receive the $100. Participants agree to share a testimony of the results of their project. For larger projects, participants can combine their $100 with other Redland members.
However, participants cannot use funds for their own personal use nor can they be used to help relatives or other organized charities.
“This is for hands-on ministry so that Redland members can themselves experience the joy of helping,” Adams said, noting already how God is using the experience.
Reports are pouring in.
Air Force pediatrician Daniel Adams felt God was asking him to use the $100 to make someone feel like a “hundred bucks,” after taking the time to listen to a belligerent homeless man at the Silver Spring metro station.
“I felt led to talk to him and spend time listening to his unintelligible rants, and it had a great impact on him. He told me I made him feel like one hundred bucks!” the doctor shared, explaining he later felt led to provide a meal for “Miss Smiley,” a homeless beggar he encountered at a pharmacy in Silver Spring.
“I am overwhelmed by the prospect of meeting the physical needs of this one woman, Annette. I feel strongly, however, that God placed her in my path for a reason, and that I should continue to engage her, learning more about her needs so that I can with God’s help begin to meet them.”
The experience challenged Adams to learn more about resources for homeless people in Montgomery County. “I am aware of the challenges and risks involved in helping Annette, but I see her as a child of God, clearly in need of friendship, and I can’t ignore her need. I will continue to pray about how I can be an instrument of God’s unlimited grace and love toward Miss Smiley.”
Cyndi Word, a single mom at Redland Baptist, felt a burden to help women trapped in the sex trafficking trade in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area. She is teaming with nine other Redlanders to furnish bedrooms for the residential program at The Samaritan Women, a Christian organization in Baltimore that ministers to women affected by human trafficking.
“I think this project’s biggest effect on me is the way it makes me look for people in need, almost like a ‘need-detective.’ It is probably the way God wants us to operate in every day life,” Word said. “I am so grateful that there is a resource available to actually meet a need, and it has made me super-aware of the people around me.”
Other projects have included helping college students and providing welcome baskets to new families who move into church members’ neighborhoods.
Pastor Adams said his goal is for this type of service to become second nature to church members. In fact, he sensed God’s call to emphasize service or ministry as the Redland Baptist’s 2013 theme. The focus is called “Second Nature,” a term suggested by Redland’s student minister, Kevin Freeman.
“Serving others in tangible ways should be second nature to the maturing Christ-follower…One of our goals here at Redland is to ‘care in the NATURE of Christ,’” Adams said. Learn more at www.redlandbaptist.org.