Luke 10:33-34 “But as a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was, and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.”
It has been my pleasure to be involved with Newberg FISH Emergency Services for the last nine years. The acronym FISH stands for Friends In Service to Humanity, which is a perfect description of spirit and mission of the all-volunteer organization. FISH provides several services for community members in need and partners with other Newberg service organizations like LoveINC and the Newberg Police
department. The volunteer leadership at FISH has always sought ways to reinforce the idea that every person who needs a hand should be seen as an important member of the Newberg community and should be treated as an equal.
The idea of ‘seeing people’ has been on my mind. I recently read that in the four Gospels Jesus is described as ‘seeing’ a person, or ‘seeing’ a crowd forty times. It is not always easy to see people. It is even possible to serve people and not see them. They can become ‘the poor’ nameless needy we serve to feel better. The folks we serve, whether we are a pastor or a volunteer at FISH, know the difference between being seen as problem or case number and being seen as an individual. The opportunity to slow down and see the people we serve is the reasoning behind FISH’s transition to a choice style pantry.
It is also the motivation behind traditional parish ministry. Parish ministry is a community of faith shepherded by a pastor who lives in the town. Growth in community is marked by community transformation, not just of the church members, but the impact on the town in which we live. Like FISH, churches have to evaluate methods to see if they are supporting our goals. Since, we want to see people the way Jesus sees them in the Gospels, we will want to put ourselves in places where we can see people not just serve them. In “Loved Walk Among Us: Learning to love like Jesus”, Paul Miller talks about what happens when we start to see people like Jesus did we start to love like Jesus. Miller says, “Loving means losing control of our schedule, our money, and our time. When we love we cease to be the master and become a servant.”
The choice style pantry is one way that FISH is helping to create an environment where individuals and families come in for help and walk out knowing they were seen. The willingness of FISH to continue to evolve in its pursuit of its mission is an encouragement to all of us who serve in ministries that seek to embrace and embody the life of Christ.