Outreach (Even in Retirement)
by Norma J. Goldman
What is outreach, anyway?
In the Christian community, outreach often means moving beyond the walls of a church building to connect with people who lack a spiritual anchor. Our minds immediately rush to the words of Jesus, “the fields are white unto harvest, but the laborers are few.” Jesus’ words are as daunting to us as they must have been to those first-century hearers.
All Are Called to Harvest
Just as parenting is a lifetime assignment, so too, is our call, our need to reach beyond ourselves and participate in His harvest. The concept of farming was far better understood in Jesus’ days than in our culture today. Some of us haven’t seen a plow or a tractor in many years (if ever), and we certainly wouldn’t have a clue how to operate one. But the harvest Jesus described was a harvest of souls—people ripe and ready to be added to His kingdom. Retirement offers incredible opportunities to be His hands, His feet, and His heart reaching out with Good News.
The Tools for Harvest
The Spoken Word. “Won’t you sit with me for a few moments while I share some really Good News?” “Here, let me help you with that heavy load you are carrying. I know Someone who can ease the load.” “Did you know that I have been praying for you during the hard time you are experiencing? I’d love to talk with you about it when you’re ready.” “I hope you’ll come with me to a place where you’ll find a warm reception, loving hearts, and the answers you’re looking for.”
The Word of God. Another tool is the Word of God. “I like to give Bibles to people who don’t have one of their own; I hope you’ll take some time to read this, and I’d be honored to talk with you about what you’re reading.” “As I read my Bible this morning, these verses really spoke to me about God’s help in times of uncertainty. Can I share them with you?” “I know you’ve had a rough time with your health, lately. You might want to read these verses from the Bible about God’s plan for good health.”
Prayer. “Father, will you help me speak to my friend and give me the words to say how concerned I am about her spiritually?” “Lord, my son needs You desperately as Savior, and I have shared the gospel, but still he has not trusted in You. Would You send Your Spirit and cause him to be convicted of his need for a Savior?” “Dear God, my brother is so far from You, he has no idea that he is lost. Convict him of sin and open his heart and ears to the words I will say.”
The Holy Spirit. We can never forget the dynamic power of God’s Spirit in bringing the lost to understand and accept the gospel, nor His power to help His children effectively, fervently, and consistently share their faith in the most ordinary of circumstances. And when we find ourselves careless, missing opportunities, failing to ask for divine appointments, or losing hope for those we’ve prayed for so long, He is there for us—encouraging, comforting, sharpening all our tools.
What is so special about harvesting in retirement years is that we have a lifetime of examples to share. God has proven Himself faithful in forgiving, cleansing, empowering, and even rescuing us from our own failures. How could we think of keeping this good news all to ourselves!
About the Writer: Former magazine editor Norma J. Goldman enjoys a successful freelance career in her retirement. The award-winning writer lives near Nashville, TN. Learn more about retirement options at www.boardofretirement.com.