I know just how blessed I am to live on a small farm. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t stop and think about the wonder of it all. Through my farm I am able to do what I love, and feed my family, friends and neighbors, all at the same time. And I thank God for that.
Sometimes, though, I wonder just how I can use my farm to share that blessing with others. Recently, I spoke with someone else regarding Ministry work. Most churches these days have some form of ongoing Ministry, but most of the meetings are during work hours for some, or just simply bringing canned goods for a food bank. With her work schedule, and my farm, three jobs and helping my Mom out from time to time, some of us aren’t easily able to commit to some organized Ministries. Yet, we long for Ministry work of some kind.
Take heart. You don’t have to be active in an organized Ministry. You can do your own and have it easily fit into your schedule. Take a moment to think about what you love to do and do well. We are all given gifts, and it is those gifts we are to use to serve others. Here are a few ideas:
- Do you love to create? Knit throws, blankets or shawls and take them to nursing homes or neighbors who are on fixed incomes and have trouble heating their homes during the winters. Make simple throws out of scrap fabric, and back with old (but in good condition) blankets or bedspreads. Find a way to use other crafts to brighten someone’s day.
- Do you cook and/or bake? When you are preparing meals for your family, double the recipe and put one of the casseroles, meat loaves, or lasagnas in the freezer. Take it to someone who is sick, or struggling to make ends meet. Bake a loaf of bread or biscuits; make up a big batch of soup. Or, make full meals and use the disposable trays designed for frozen meals. Set aside a day of the week and bake cupcakes or cookies, and deliver them to those who don’t get many visitors. For families with small children, pack a few healthy ‘brown bag lunches’ to give them a few extra minutes in the morning. Include pretzels, chips, cookies, fresh veggies and fruit. If the items need to be refrigerated, just let them know to stick the bags in the fridge until ready to grab and go.
- Love to read? Search around for the older segment of your area. Call on them first, and ask them if they would like you to come on a certain morning or evening to read to them. Older people have a hard time seeing sometimes, and would love to have somebody read their favorite stories to them. Check with your local library and see if you can occasionally read to the children. You can also train to be a literacy tutor. The training may take some time, but from there on out, you can take on a student as they come along, and teach them the valuable skill of how to read.
- Errands – we all have them, and very few of us enjoy spending our time doing them. Yet, there are some who would do anything just to be able to get out of the house for a little bit. Offer to take someone to run their errands once a week, or even once a month. If they are physically incapable of going, offer to pick up a list. It is easy to do theirs while you are doing your own. The best part is you have spent very little extra time, and you have given someone a helping hand.
- Food & Supplies – Most Food Banks have quite a few donations during the holidays, but did you know that their pantries run thin the rest of the year? When you do your grocery shopping, pick up a few extra items and set them aside to donate to a local food bank. Or – start picking up extra toiletry items, like soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes. Shop at the Dollar Store and get a few baskets. When you hear of someone having a disaster in their life (loss of home or job, etc.), make up a basket and take it to them. Here is a note on that: I once thought I would save money by purchasing an off brand shampoo and crème rinse. After a few washings, my hair was dry, brittle and breaking. Alona had to do some damage control, and I learned my lesson. If you do buy off brands, be careful which ones. Or, just buy the name brands when they are on sale or you have a coupon. Don’t offer anything you wouldn’t use yourself.
- For the Guys – Mow the Lawn. Weed the flowerbed. Till a garden. Do yard work. General and minor home and/or auto repairs. Heavy lifting.
- Plant a Row for the Hungry – “Launched in 1995, Plant a Row for the Hungryis a public service program of GWA and the GWA Foundation. Garden writers are asked to encourage their readers/listeners to plant an extra row of produce each year and donate their surplus to local food banks, soup kitchens and service organizations to help feed America’s hungry.”* As gardeners, we always have plenty of surplus vegetables, and many of us have room to plant just one more row (well, okay, we are really trying to find an excuse to plant one more row…). So go ahead and till up that extra two feet and plant a row of something you can share with your neighbors, local soup kitchen or Food Bank. This one is just simply a win/win situation!
- Take Time – let’s face it. Our time is more valuable, and more costly to us than the price of a brand new fully loaded combine. We are only allotted so much of it a day, and every second is usually packed to the fullest. Yet it is also the one thing that others want more than anything else we have to give. Shut-ins love to have someone to just talk to. Single people, who have no family in the area, would love to have a surrogate family to sit down to dinner with. New arrivals to the area are struggling to make acquaintances in their new location. There are many lonely people out there who would just love to have a connection to someone. Reach out. Invite someone to coffee. Take a cake to the new people in your neighborhood, and include a card that has your phone number, the number of a local vet, doctor, hairdresser, and other phone numbers of people they may need to reach. If they have young children, offer a few hours of babysitting so the parents can have some time to get a few boxes unpacked. Have a Meet the New Neighbor Pot Luck, and invite all the neighbors. This is a Ministry I could write pages about – but given some time, you can easily list your own “100 Things I Can Do…”
Ministries do not have to be some big, grand gesture. They can just be simple, quiet things that we do to serve one another. To me, one of the best Ministries in the world is the Open Door Policy, where people can come for coffee, a cookie or to and just to visit. There are times we have something weighing on our hearts, and we need someone who will just sit and listen. There are times we just need a sounding board, so we can hear ourselves think. And then there are the times when we just need to be around other likeminded folks – nothing serious, just to visit.
Think you are ready for your own Ministry? Make a list of all the things you do. See which ones can segue into a Ministry, then make a list of those who can benefit. Before you know it, you will find you really do have the extra time to serve others. And don’t be surprised when you find out you really enjoy it!
* Source: https://gardenwriters.org/Plant-a-Row