OPENING ACTIVITY: Expressing Your Devotion
Begin class by asking students how they express their devotion to God. Examples could include learning more about Him in various ways (as they are doing now) as well as serving others. Serving examples could include bringing a meal to someone who is sick, volunteering to help in a homeless shelter, or doing lawn work for an elderly person or someone with physical limitation.
This week’s article looks at how one individual expresses his faith and devotion to the Lord through an organization he founded to help the homeless.
OPENING STORY: [Read the story aloud or make copies and pass them around]
THE MINISTRY OF GOOD WORKS, INC.
If you asked Keith Wasserman, founder and director of Good Works, Inc., a Christian outreach ministry in Athens, Ohio, what an act of goodness is, he might answer to “stretch out our hands, at times sacrificially, to those in need.” An example would be his own ministry that offers biblical hospitality and practical assistance to people “who are struggling with poverty and homelessness in rural Appalachia.”
Why Wasserman is involved in this type of ministry has a lot to do with his faith in Jesus. He feels “called to serve [and] considers it a privilege to ameliorate,” a word that means to make something (like a problem) better or less painful—to in essence make life more bearable or satisfactory for someone else.
Wasserman began attending Ohio University in 1976. In his senior year, in conjunction with a degree in mental health, Wasserman remodeled the basement of his home in Athens to create a two-bedroom apartment he subsequently used to assist what he calls “displaced people.” He officially established Good Works, Inc., in 1981, then he expanded the ministry in 1984 by purchasing a home to provide emergency shelter for a growing number of men, women, and children who found themselves without a home. The property, now called the Timothy House, operates 24 hours a day and provides from 150 to 225 people with shelter, averaging 4,000-5,000 nights of shelter per year. Last August, the ministry reached a milestone when the cumulative number of adults sheltered reached 100,000.
The Timothy House is not the only ministry offered by Wasserman through Good Works, Inc. On Friday nights, a dinner is provided at a nearby church for residents of the house followed by a variety of other activities. This weekly event provides opportunities for those displaced from their homes to stay connected with the community. Volunteers provide food for the meals and interact with the residents in “volleyball, basketball, poetry, art, Bible study, live music, health education, and special presentations.” The Friday night ministry also offers programs for children ages 5-17. Wasserman’s goal in doing this is to “bring together the residents of the Timothy House and the people of Athens County into a community of HOPE where people can establish trust, build friendships, help one another in practical ways, encourage one another, and discover new ways to love and serve one another.”
Also within Good Works, Inc., is a ministry Wasserman calls “Neighbors Helping Neighbors.” It is based on his belief that though “loving God and loving our neighbors” often involves “providing a place for them to live” or “sharing a meal together,” it also includes “giving them a place of service so they can love their neighbors.” This is consistent with his goal not just to offer hospitality and assistance to people in need but to provide opportunities for them to “share their gifts and abilities with others” as well. In doing so, he feels that he’s creating “ways for people from all walks of life to build relationships of love and service with their neighbors.”
Wasserman feels that it’s a gift “to be invited into relationships with people who are vulnerable.” He sees the opportunities to do acts of goodness, and what brings him joy is actually using these opportunities for good and then seeing the changes in the lives of those who need help.
- What acts of goodness have you or your church done in your community?
- How do those acts benefit others and help them see what Jesus is like?
- What does it show about our hearts when we give of our time and resources to help those in need?
Love + Give + Hope + Community = LIFE
Ohio Today Spring 2015
Looking for Steps 2 & 3?
You can find Steps 2 and 3 in your teacher’s guide; your Step 4 appears below. To purchase a teacher's guide, please visit: Bible-in-Life or Echoes
EXPRESS YOUR FAITH
Our faith in Jesus wasn’t meant to be just an internal commitment. We express our devotion to Him through acts of goodness that benefit others. Jesus gave us examples of this in the ways He ministered to those around Him. People like Keith Wasserman and those who help him provide a modern example of how to give of ourselves in the world around us. If we say we are devoted to Him, yet do not serve others, our faith resembles that of the Israelites who went through all the religious motions, yet did not truly love and serve the Lord and seek justice for all people. We may not believe we practice injustice or immorality, but our indifference to the problems of others is not pleasing to Jesus.
Have your students return to the groups you formed in Step 1 to discuss this question:
- What can you do this week to express your devotion to God through service to others?
Close the session in prayer by thanking Jesus for His incredible love for us. Pray that you all students will be willing to give sacrificially of your resources with a heart that is devoted to God and seeking to do His will.
THE BIBLE IN THE NEWS
Archaeologist Lee Ritmeyer discusses what the temple treasury looked like in the time of Jesus:
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