Introduction: To the Least of These…

Nicole Carousel
Author Rev. Nicole Ashwood

Have you ever had a moment where you wondered ‘What am I here for?’ or tried to figure out how your congregation (or entire denomination) could better connect with the surrounding community? Maybe you even quit your job, closed your business, made plans to move to another country hoping to offer your gifts and skills to the church there. You might have left your healthy-sized congregation to provide leadership to a dying church, bringing it to a point where hope once again springs eternal in the community. Or perhaps you have felt the stirring of a call to ministry but are not convinced that you are supposed to preach or serve overseas as a missionary.

The truth is, as Christians, we are all called to live out our faith everywhere we go: in our homes, schools, and communities; at work or at play. Still, much can happen between the moment of saying yes to Jesus and actually living the faith, and it’s easy to entertain the mistaken notion that ministry is only for pastors and specially trained people – not for people like us! This week, we will focus on ministry organized by congregations and regional groups comprised of ‘ordinary people’ like you and me who were willing to follow God’s call. These groups have done extraordinary things by recognizing the humanity of those around them and have ministered to people with whom others might not have been willing to connect.

First, we will focus on an inner-city congregation in the middle of the “concrete jungle” that became the church for the community through their Farm Inna Di City project. Then, we will cross parish borders and enter a village where abject poverty and extreme violence resulted in the elimination of an entire family overnight, yet a ministry of presence allowed for experiences of grace and restoration. Finally, we will look at creative strategies to put an end to child abuse through community theatre.

It is my prayer that as you join my friends and myself, you will find yourself yearning to become more involved in your own local ministry. Perhaps your call will become clearer to you. Come, let’s not waste any time – the journey begins right here, right now.

AUTHOR BIO: Rev. Nicole Ashwood is the Education in Mission Secretary at the Caribbean and North America Council for Mission (CANACOM). She has studied at Geneva University and Eden Theological Seminary and is currently a minister in Jamaica.

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