Two weeks ago I learned about a form of ministry that has captivated my attention. Alliance of AIDS Services – Carolina has a brochure explaining a bit about Faith Ministries that I imagine has possibilities beyond my wildest dreams. And I do have some wild dreams.
Faith Ministries organizing is a barely tapped resource from which so many communities could benefit. In order for a community to flourish, all participants have to be enabled to access basic services. When people are left out of the loop of community engagement, their needs do not disappear but are met in less efficient and more expensive manner, often to the detriment of the individual and of the community as a whole.
Grocery stores in most communities are not located in neighborhoods for easy access for those without their own transportation, while convenience stores with high prices for items are more readily accessible. Food pantries only act somewhat as a backup support for people unable to afford to meet their needs because of limited access to a local grocery store. Someone without the money and/or stamina to take a bus to their medical care provider, may find that the only safe means of transportation to get needed medical care is by ambulance to the hospital emergency room. And for some of our neighbors, getting someone able to care enough to accompany them for support and assistance to an appointment is not possible. The injustice of the lack of access for some individuals to basic services hurts the life of the community.
Faith Ministries organizing can be used to establish relationships in communities where the wellbeing of every neighbor is considered significant to the community as a whole. No one deserves to be left out. This ministry can promote an environment where caring for other is realized as in one’s own best interest. To always be on the asking side of a relationship prohibits mutuality and respectful encounters and distorts the meaning of giving. In a healthy relationship it is easy to recognize how giving and getting are mutually inclusive, and how caring for neighbor as self, is caring for self.