Opportunities for Service
Do you love your neighbor? One of the ideas we will hear as we go through John’s letter to the church is that love is a sign of our relationship with God – how we love others is an indicator of the health of our relationship with God! Biblically, we hear over and over again a calling to love the most vulnerable in our communities (Matthew 25:31-46, James 2:14-17, 1 John 2:7-11), including the homeless, the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the imprisoned. My experience has taught me that most of us understand and believe this – but we aren’t always sure exactly how to carry this out in practice. Loving our neighbor can be an overwhelming task (the needs are great!) – and where should we start? Besides, each of us have different passions and gifts, so that one person might be drawn to helping the homeless, while another wants to serve those who are behind bars.
What follows is a list of excellent service opportunities for your to get involved with. Some of these opportunities can be done right from home, some will take you into the community; some can be done as often as you are able, while others require a set commitment; some will require an hour or two a month, others might involve more time. And, of course, COVID is effecting how some of these are being done at this time. Why not make an effort this year to spend a couple of hours a month serving in our community?
CASA of Marion County: CASA’s are sworn volunteers who are a voice for children in foster care. They build relationships with kids, in order to determine what their needs are, and how best to meet them. CASAs also write reports for the courts, in order to promote the best interest of at-risk children in foster care. Visit https://www.casamarionor.org/ for more information.
Crossroads Bible Institute: Crossroads Bible Institute matches mentors with those who are serving prison time, with the purpose of encouraging and instructing inmates in their walk with God. Mentors correct bible lessons, and write encouragement notes to students. Check out https://cpministries.org/ for more information.
Salem For Refugees: SFR is a (relatively) new non-profit here in Salem that helps our new neighbors (those who have moved to the United States to start a new life) adjust to life in the United States. Currently, there is a need for companies with a willingness to hire new neighbors, volunteers to tutor school-age children, volunteers to assist with transportation, volunteers to help complete job applications, and people willing to donate supplies for the organization, and for new neighbors. Visit www.salemforrefugees.org for more information.
Arches: It’s no secret that Salem is facing a homeless crisis. While the solutions (and the underlying problems) are complex, we can participate in alleviating some of the hardship caused by homelessness. Arches runs warming centers when the temperatures are below freezing. They also operate a day-center hospitality center, and a shower facility. Volunteers are needed to staff these shelters. Their website is https://mwvcaa.org/give/.
Union Gospel Mission: Union Gospel Mission works to help people break free from some of the causes of homelessness. In addition to running a shelter (and a women & children’s shelter), they also run addiction treatment programs, and a weekly chapel. A host of volunteer opportunities are available, from administrative work, to working in Restore (their thrift store), to teachers & tutors, to yard work…Volunteers of all ages and abilities are needed! Visit www.ugmsalem.org to find out where you can help.
Salem Right To Life: The unborn are among the most vulnerable in our community and they deserve someone to speak for them. Salem Right to Life advocates for the lives of the unborn, calling for change to laws that permit abortion, and this month, you can get involved by participating in the Salem March for Life. The peaceful March is beginning February 17, and going through March 28. To sign up to participate, visit www.40daysforlife.com/Salem , or you may also contact the church office for more information.
Other Ideas to serve:
- Support a local business that supports these organizations: Kahawa Coffee uses the proceeds of their business to support Salem’s new neighbors. You can buy a monthly subscription to get fresh roasted coffee delivered to your house, and care for new neighbors. What more could you want? https://www.kahawaroasting.com/
- Shop for Salem For Refugees: Next time you place an amazon order, consider buying something from Salem For Refugees’ Amazon Gift list: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/genericItemsPage/1D0KIEK715L60?type=wishlist&_encoding=UTF8 Your purchase will help new families build their home here in Salem.
- Do you have gently-used coats or blankets that you no longer need? We have a collection box in the entrance to the fellowship hall, and you can donate them there. Anything collected will be donated to those in need in our community.
- Buy an extra box or two of granola bars to keep in your car, and distribute to those who are asking for help on the streets.
Of course, there are lots of other organizations that are serving in our community. Are you serving with a local agency? Share it with others.
And finally, remember 1 John 2:5, which tells us that one of the ways that we experience the perfection of God’s love is by obedience to him, and in loving others. That means that one of the ways we enjoy God’s love even more fully is through serving. How will you experience God’s love & favor in the coming year?