Mention prison ministry to most folks and you might get any number of responses. One I often hear is that “I don’t feel called to prison ministry.” What this particluar response might reflect is either disinterest or fear.
Jesus said emphatically, “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
[Mat 25:36] Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
[Mat 25:37] Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
[Mat 25:38] When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
[Mat 25:39] Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?”
[Mat 25:40] And the King shall answer and say unto them, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
[Mat 25:41] Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
[Mat 25:42] For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
[Mat 25:43] I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.”
[Mat 25:44] Then shall they also answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?”
[Mat 25:45] Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”
Ministering to those in prison or homeless or in whatever way people might be disenfranchised also brings blessings to those doing the ministering. One example is stress. In todays featured article by Erica Brooks we read many examples of releaving stress through charity. You might just find yourself doing the Lord’s will.
Stress Relief Through Charity
One of the best ways to relieve yourself from the stresses in life is by giving to others. When you help others it takes the focus off of you and your problems and shifts the focus to the needs of others. Helping others brings about change in the community and a peace to you and someone in need.
Below are 10 ways to volunteer and give the gift of yourself to others
Walkathons are charity walks. The only thing required is desire, determination and some good walking shoes. To participate contact the charity of your choice who is hosting the walk to register. Once you register you will be asked to get sponsors to donate money on behalf of you walking. Sponsors can be anyone- your family members, co-workers, church members, local businesses etc. Donations can be anywhere from $1.00 to as much as your sponsor is willing to donate
2.Local Nursing Home
Many residents of nursing homes don’t have anyone to visit them and would love a visit from a warm and friendly person. It would only require an hour or two of your time a week and it would really make a difference to an elderly resident who does not have family or someone to look after them. Check with you local nursing home to find out how to volunteer at their center
3.Boys and Girls Club
Many of the youth today are in need of activities to keep them out of trouble and someone to guide them so that they stay grounded and out of harms way. Your local boys and girls club does just that by providing sports and fun activities for children in the area. The club is always in need of responsible, patient adults who are willing to help. Check your local yellow pages to find the center near you and give them a call to find out how to volunteer
4.Local Church Ministries
The church is a place where people can go to find help in a variety of areas. Put your spiritual gifts to good use at your local church by joining a church ministry. There are many areas that you can be of help in- youth ministry, usher board ministry, missions ministry, prison ministry, music ministry, just to name a few. Check with your local church to see where you can be of the most help
5.Local Food Bank
This is a wonderful charity where you can help those in your community get the food they need. All it takes is a phone call to your local food bank to get started
Help those who need shelter to get the food and shelter they need. Think of the difference you will make to those in your community by devoting a couple of hours a week of your time to this charity
7.Girls and Boy Scouts of America
What a fun charity. Responsible and patient volunteers are always appreciated. It requires only a few hours of your time a week meeting with the children. You would play games, participate in badge earning activities, go on local outings and more. Check with your local Boys Scouts or Girls Scouts office to find out about the volunteer opportunities in your area
8.Domestic Violence Centers
There is a great need in our country to protect those suffering from physical abuse. Volunteer opportunities are available in the shelters and to answer domestic violence hotlines. Contact your local shelter today to find out how you can help
9.Rape Crisis Center
Rape is a serious crime and rape victims need all the help and support that they can get to recover from this form of abuse. Volunteers are needed to work in local crisis centers and on crisis hotlines. There may be special training that is needed for this type of charity due to the circumstances of the service. Check with your local rape crisis center to find out how you can help.
Pets need love too! There are many pet shelters that are in need of volunteers to care for sick and homeless pets and to help them to find good homes. If you love pets and enjoy working with them this is a great charity for you. The opportunities to volunteer in your community are endless. Still not sure where you can volunteer? Visit www.volunteermatch.org to match your skills with one of the many charities in your area. Giving of yourself to others in such a positive way is one of the bests gifts you can give to yourself and others.
Erica Brooks is Owner of Stress Away Family Shop which includes Stress Away Bath Shop and Stress Away Bridal Shop. She specializes in offering products, tips and resources to help you to combat the everyday stresses of life. You can reach her at http://www.stressawayfamilyshop.com