There are tons of ways to get involved in community outreach. Whether you are reaching out to younger kids, the uneducated or underprivileged, those in poverty, the sick or the homeless, if God’s hand is in it, it’s incredible work and absolutely needs to be done.
For the past six years I’ve been helping out with Just Keep Living, a foundation started by Matthew McConaughey to encourage inner-city kids to get outside and play. Many of them don’t have a chance to get out and exercise otherwise. I also recently started serving with a ministry called Rise Up for Kids, a local Jackson City after-school program that gives kids an environment to learn about God and play outside in a safe place.
But another outreach opportunity that really draws me in is connecting with the homeless in the community. When I read about Jesus and the life He led in the Bible, I see Him loving those in poverty — giving His time, attention and resources to serve them. I read about the lives of men such as St. Francis, who had a passion to give back to others and I’m inspired. Now when I see a homeless person, I don’t automatically think of them as a drug addict or someone who might cause crimes. Instead, I try to see them as I see myself: a child of God. That’s how Jesus sees them.
People talk about how giving to others should feel radical, but I want this to be the case for me: I want generosity to be normal for my life. Yes, giving a significant gift to others can feel crazy at times, but I don’t want it to feel crazy.
As I seek to be a servant and study what it looks like to be Christlike, I see an underlying theme of giving, and giving out of joy. What we have is not our own; everything belongs to God and has been entrusted to us. We give because He’s given so much to us. The amount of peace and joy I’ve been experiencing since I decided to live generously shows me that the Holy Spirit is thriving within me, leading me to do what God has called me to do.
I don’t necessarily always go searching for homeless people, but when I do see them, I try to interact with them. When I’m at spring training in downtown Tampa, there’s someone on every corner. The gift doesn’t have to be crazy; sometimes you can give a couple of dollars, loose change, leftover food or a jacket from your car if that’s what they need.
Every opportunity to give is a chance to spread God’s love to others, which in turn is a huge blessing to me. I love to sit down and talk with these individuals — to hear their stories and share Christ’s story with them. For me, it’s not about the money I give, it’s not about me at all. It’s about God. I often ask the people I meet if I can take their portrait and share their story on social media, not to exploit them, but to hopefully inspire others to share Christ’s love with those they see on the streets.
Everyone has a platform to use for the Gospel. God can and will work through us to reach others just by our willingness to stop and talk with someone we see today. Don’t let the opportunity to share Christ’s love with others and experience His blessing in your life pass you by.
— Daniel Norris, Detroit Tigers pitcher
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.