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Free in Christ: Community outreach

“Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). See how congregations reach out with Christ’s love in their communities.

“In humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

This encouragement from the apostle Paul has been put to the test at Christ, Denver, Colo. After a trickle of migrants stopped at the church during the first nine months of 2023, a full-on wave began in early October. It started with one young family wondering if we had any clothing to share. We did! Another family showed up the next morning, and we were blessed to serve them as well. As I settled into my office after they left, the doorbell rang with another request for assistance. It seemed like every time we sent one family on its way with clothing, shoes, a meal, and a devotion, another soul searching for assistance showed up. The interruptions continued—the beautiful interruptions.

These interruptions were beautiful because God was challenging us to grow. Interruption after interruption convicted us of valuing the comfort of our routine over people. The interruptions forced us to deal with circumstances that we felt unprepared for and uncertain on where to even start, revealing more pride than humility. The interruptions made us lean even more on the key phrase listed earlier in Philippians—“united with Christ” (2:1). This wasn’t about what we were going to do but what Christ has done for us.

Every time people stopped for clothing, a cup of coffee, or a break from the cold, we invited them to step into our chapel for a devotion, a prayer, and a blessing. No one has declined. We thank God for the sound resources developed by Multi-Language Productions that we can send with them. We thank God for the 100 or so souls who have joined us for worship at some point. We thank God for the beautiful complication of coordinating Bible information classes for 25 to 30 adults. We thank God for the 23 children who have been baptized.

Free in Christ, Christ, Denver, Colo
One way Christ, Denver, Colo., practices compassion ministry in its community is by helping migrant families from Venezuela. Through this outreach, the congregation has been able to witness to these families, lead some of the adults through Bible information class, and baptize many children.

These interruptions are beautiful because they have stretched us to learn. Perhaps thinking in these three levels of learning would be a blessing for you when an opportunity for compassion ministry shows itself.

Learn about: Our online searches provided a wealth of information about the political/economic situation facing many Venezuelans and why they undertake the treacherous journey to get here. YouTube documentaries on passing through the Darién Gap gave insight into one of the most harrowing portions of the route.

Learn from: Active listening and moving past generalizations and assumptions helped us get a better understanding of an individual’s situation. Our city’s day shelter provided a natural setting to converse over a cup of coffee and listen to a person’s needs, hurts, and anxieties. This led to pastoral care opportunities and helped us make sure we were serving in a productive way.

Learn with: We try to walk and work together with those we serve, valuing and honoring the gifts, insights, and opportunities God has given them. After one family moved into an apartment, the family members wanted to take advantage of their access to a kitchen to bless and serve others. We coordinated efforts to have arepas after our Spanish service one Sunday so they could express gratitude to our church and give their fellow Venezuelans who were still in shelters a small taste of home cooking. We also coordinated a Christmas party and several baptism celebrations. As we face challenges new to all of us, the whole body of Christ is active.

To God be the glory!

Learn more about Christ’s ministry at

Paul Biedenbender

We are all familiar with the words of Jesus’ Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Reaching the unchurched simply by expecting them to come to us is a thing of the past. Today, our outreach focus is on sharing the gospel message of Jesus by going where the people are. For our mission church—Divine Savior Church, North Collin County, Texas—the word go has spurred us to share Christ’s love with our friends and neighbors by participating in community outreach activities.

Our efforts started simply with our core group volunteering at Neighbors Nourishing Neighbors, a local food pantry that serves 200-plus families and seniors every week. We picked up and sorted groceries, participated in food distribution, served in various capacities at fundraising events, and made and installed a set of shelf curtains, all the while forming relationships with other volunteers and helping those in need.

God quickly opened the door to additional ways for us to serve and connect with our community. We joined the Town of Prosper Adopt-A-Street program where we do quarterly roadside trash removal near Prosper High School. This program has been an awesome way to include nonmembers of all ages in our mission’s efforts to serve others. We had a great time participating in The Big Pack for Feed My Starving Children, a national Christian charity that has provided over 1.5 billion pre-packaged meals to hungry children worldwide. We also helped Grace Bridge of Celina, a North Texas-based community support organization, during itsI Got Your Back program by preparing over 300 backpacks that were distributed to 150 local families so their children could start the school year with proper food and supplies. We are looking forward to participating in some of the more than 40 community-wide events sponsored each year by the cities of Prosper, Celina, and Gunter. This year’s Gunter Christmas Marketplace allowed us to test-drive our new events tent and connect with dozens of attendees.

Free in Christ Divine Savior Church, North Collin County, Texas
To show Christ’s love in their community, members of the core group of Divine Savior Church, North Collin County, Texas, participate in a number of community outreach activities, including (left to right) helping at a local food pantry, packaging meals to feed hungry children, and doing quarterly roadside trash removal.

We are both humbled and encouraged by the way God has used these outreach efforts to help us understand and meet the needs of our community and begin relationships with Christ. We pray that our acts of service will show our friends and neighbors that Jesus’ message of love and grace is real and at work at our mission.

Learn more about Divine Savior Church’s ministry at

Bradley Johnston

Do you want your kids to learn kindness and compassion? To be more thoughtful of the needs of others?

Sign up today for Camp Compassion!

At this one-day event, kids ages 3-12 will learn the principles of kindness and compassion by looking at passages from the Bible. They will then have an opportunity to put those principles into practice by packing grocery bags that will be delivered to local families in need.

Would you sign up your child or grandchild for this event? At our church, Christ Alone, Dardenne Prairie, Mo., we found that many would. This was the message we put out in print and in targeted ads on social media to see what kind of response we would receive. Several dozen registrations came in. Over half of them were from families outside our membership.

Free In Christ Christ Alone, Dardenne Prairie, putting food bags together
Christ Alone, Dardenne Prairie, received a matching grant from WELS Christian Aid and Relief to help the congregation hold Camp Compassion and purchase groceries to distribute in the community. The Community Care and Compassion matching grants program provides matching grants of up to $2,500 annually to self-supporting WELS congregations that carry out compassion ministry in the community. Learn more at

It turns out parents do want their kids to learn the principles of kindness and compassion.

A congregation that seeks to be salt and light can easily find an opportunity like this to make a difference in the community. Jesus says that good deeds will make the church stand out like a city built on a hill so others might see those deeds and glorify God (Matthew 5:13-16).

Yet Jesus doesn’t spell out specifically what those good deeds are or how they will be carried out. Every congregation is free in Christ to find what works best for it in its community.

Camp Compassion has worked for us because it connects us with those who wish to help others and those who need help. We met families who were in a position to give and families who were in a position of need. This children’s program acts as a hub for those connections.

The best part is that this program has not only given us the opportunity to build up children’s characters through acts of service but also serves as a channel through which we can teach them the reason for doing so. The goal is not moralism. The goal is the gospel and, in turn, gospel motivation. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). The principles of kindness and compassion are built on what Christ has done for us. That’s a message we are happy to share.

Learn more about Christ Alone’s ministry at and in this month’s WELS Connection.

Steve Waldschmidt

Author: Multiple authors
Volume 111, Number 04
Issue: April 2024

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This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Free in Christ

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