“I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat.”
This lesson from Matthew 25:35 taught by Jesus is the foundation for the Community Outreach Ministry led by the University Church of Christ.
Last June, 20 members from the UCC felt a calling from God to do something more, said seven-year church member Dr. John Jones. The committee met and began formulating ideas on how to serve not only the church members but those in the surrounding Malibu community.
“In a place like Malibu, there’s lots of glitz and glamour,” said Jones, the overseer of the Community Outreach Ministry. “If the truth be told, there are also lots of homeless people struggling just to make it though the day.”
Jones said that there is a need not only to help the poor, but also elderly whom need attention. The group’s main objective is to “find the hurt in the community and heal it,” said Jones.
“When you look in the gospels, you find Jesus ministering to people outside of the traditional religious setting,” Jones said. The committee was moved by the example of Jesus’ outreach to those outside of the social church community and has made the efforts to do something about it.
“Too often the response to human needs of churches, mine included, has been strictly reactive. We wait until someone asks for help, then we see what we can do,” Ken Durham, pulpit minister of UCC, said. “A lot of good gets done this way, as in recent efforts to respond to the tsunami, and Katrina, and Rita and the earthquake in Pakistan. But we believe that a community of faith should also be proactive, looking to anticipate human needs and marshalling and channeling our resources there whenever possible, before situations reach a point of crisis. That’s why we are trying to get a lot better at identifying the people-helping efforts and agencies in our community, so we can encourage and assist them.”
“Malibu is a hard community to reach, but the outlets they have chosen are great opportunities for them to do service with other people of the Malibu community,” said Pepperdine student and activities intern for Campus Ministry Jennifer Lowe.
She said she believes it is a great opportunity for students to get to know the faculty and members of the church by serving with them.
“I think that Pepperdine has a lot of opportunities financially, and is blessed with a lot of resources that should be extended to the community around us.”
Jones said that even though the ministry is still in its earliest stages, it is open to everyone in the Pepperdine community. He also included that this ministry has been set forth by these members who believed in a greater calling, they felt there was a need to step out of the comfort zone of the small church groups.
The group reconvened in September with different ministries for involvement, including The Artifac Tree, Malibu Meals on Wheels, SOS Ministry and The Labor Exchange.
The Artifac Tree is a non-profit organization that serves the community when fire, flood or earthquake strike. Volunteers are needed for a few hours a week to help with sorting donations and working at the counter. Donations are also needed to purchase a small truck for donation pickup.
Providing meals to the homebound and/or disabled, the Malibu Meals on Wheels program needs a new coordinator for only a few hours a week.
The University Church has financially supported the SOS ministry in the past which helps the homeless of Malibu. However, this year the Church will also collect donated blankets, jackets and socks for the upcoming winter season and needs help to prepare meals for the homeless.
The Malibu Community Labor Exchange needs people willing to provide coffee and food items for light meals and snacks for the laborers on a regular, scheduled basis. They also need tutors and language assistance to the laborers. But mainly their need is for people to hire workers through the Exchange.
Jones said that this is just the beginning of the ministry and that as it grows, it will be expanded to different regions, involving lots more than just the church members.
Durham is excited for these possibilities and encourages this new ministry “so we can be, as Jesus said, the salt and the light of the earth.”
For more information about the Outreach Ministry and how to get involved, contact John Jones at John.Jones@pepperdine.edu or ext. 7522.