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Valentines Day Outreach

Valentines Day can be extremely lonely for some people. We like to go around passing out packets with Valentines day candy and an outreach card packed in them to businesses to let people know that God loves and cares for them in a practical way. We usually simply tell people what we are doing, thank them for working on a holiday, and after we give out the candy packs we ask if we can say a quick 10 second prayer for those we are serving.

One lady that we met on this outreach reached out to us and said that she actually threw away the candy due to her diet, but she remembered the kindness and 10 second prayer.

This is a profound statement. Many people are reminded that they are alone on valentines day, but when we step out to love through simple acts of kindness done with no strings attached, even if those we are serving aren’t wanting what we are materially offering, God’s kindness and love moves through us to reach those that are hurting and lonely.

A friend of mine that has been doing Kindness Outreach around Waco, Texas lead a group that went out around midnight on valentines night last year and gave out brownies to those having to work. He said this created a big splash in the community. You can read about that here: Brazos Meadow’s Church Valentine’s Outreach Recap. Love that idea.

What you Need:

Small Plastic Bag

Valentines Day Candy

Connection Card

Where To Go:

Businesses

Parks

Apartment Complexes

 

 

Greeting from New York City!

My name is Stephen Trainer and I am the Pastor of Graffiti Coney Island, a ministry-based church plant in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn. I have been a student/practitioner of kindness outreach for a couple of years now, thanks to my friendship with someone I admire a great deal (who happens to produce this blog) and I’d like to take a few moments to share with you a little about our experiences showing God’s love in a city that has a reputation for impossibly hard hearts.

In New York City, you are told to speak to no one, mind your own business, and for the love of all things do not make eye contact with anyone on the subway. In the largest city in the United States, people are frequently alone even as they stand in a subway car so full the doors have difficulty closing. Headphones are the accessory of choice – everyone dons them each time they leave home, from kids to grandmothers, a strategy designed to ensure they are not forced to interact with anyone.

I’ve been told New Yorkers will never respond well to kindness outreach. I’ve been warned not to try in certain neighborhoods because the culture isn’t conducive and people will just become angry. Coney Island, where we are planting Graffiti, is a challenging neighborhood were violence is all too common, and I’ve been cautioned that kindness outreach is simply not safe in this area. I am convinced that kindness combined with the leading of the Holy Spirit works every time it is tried, regardless of venue, so duly noting the conventional wisdom we elected to advance as we have in many other of life’s areas, we did it anyway.

About an hour ago I was on the subway, and thinking about what I would write here I noticed a poster on the train that said, “Courtesy Counts. Others will thank you. Ok we can’t guarantee a thank you, but they will notice – and appreciate it.”

Courtesy Counts

People are people no matter where they live or where they are from, even New Yorkers. Who cannot appreciate and understand kindness? Let me qualify my words with this disclaimer – I am not claiming to be an expert on any subject. We have been doing ministry full-time in New York City for a grand total of 8 weeks, and I am certain our day is coming when we have a negative experience as we seek to show God’s love in tangible ways with no strings attached. I can only share with you what we have experienced so far; here are three stories.

It snows in New York City, in case you haven’t heard. It’s snowing now as I write this in fact. One of the seasonal outreaches Austin speaks a great deal about is leaf raking from yards in the Autumn months, and although almost no one has a lawn in NYC, business and home owners are required by law to clear the snow from the sidewalks in front of their buildings. We thought a great way to show God’s love to people in our neighborhood would be to do it for them! God used this particular outreach to help us establish a very positive relationship with a prominent business owner in our community. He is a not-yet believer, but knows who we are, why we are here, and every time I go into his store now he engages me in meaningful conversation. Once I was in his store when the phone rang. I couldn’t help but overhear his conversation, and was really moved when I heard him say, “Yeah, my friend Stephen is here…” This new friendship will no doubt continue to lead to gospel conversations.

This past Valentine’s Day, we tried our hand at another outreach Austin has lead many through. We made up 125 small bags of candy and placed an outreach card very similar to the ones Austin has demonstrated here. My wife, our two boys (aged 5 & 2) and I stood on a busy street corner in our neighborhood and gave passers-by the free gifts and very warmly wished them a happy Valentine’s Day. Out of 127 people we encountered, only two refused our gift. Not bad for stone-cold New Yorkers! People’s reactions were priceless, and I could not count how many people hugged our kids when they handed them the little bag. We even saw a spike in traffic at our website that afternoon.

Change it

The last experience I will share is my favorite. Some friends from a partnering church of ours and I went out one day for my personal favorite outreach, cleaning restrooms of area businesses. We visited four shops that day, one refused our offer to clean their restrooms, and the other three permitted us. One bodega owner, a Muslim gentleman from Yemen pointed us in the direction of his restroom, scarcely glancing up from his work. We did not know it just then, but because of a language barrier he thought we were there to use his bathroom, not clean it. He came to investigate when the three dudes did not immerge from his single occupancy restroom after several minutes; imagine his surprise when he found us cleaning it! He was at a legitimate loss for words in any language. As my friends finished up, I began to speak to him, and realizing our communication difficulties I asked if he read Arabic. He nodded, and so using my phone and Google Translate, I copied the “Just for You, Just Because” message from our outreach cards and translated it to Arabic for him to read. When he finished, his eyes filled with tears as he said, “We are brothers.”

Toliet Outreach

Is New York City too hard a place for kindness outreach? I do not think so. I am convinced that kindness combined with the leading of the Holy Spirit works, every time it is tried, regardless of venue. It seems to be working in my city, and I believe it will in yours as well.

I got a very encouraging email from one of the pastors that we coach in Kindness Outreach named Scott Hedges. Scott had told me his church, Brazos Meadows in Waco, Texas, was doing a Valentines Outreach where they were going to bring bags with baked goodies and connection cards to those having to work the midnight shift on Valentines. The response below is an email of Steve’s to me telling me how the outreach went.

It was a great time.  We had 12 Youth and 9 adults.  We sorted food and headed out in teams of three just after midnight.  The first team started at Wal-Mart.  I had my concerns whether they’d even let us in or let us stay. We met with the store manager and she was overwhelmed to the point of tears.  Not only did she let us stay, she gave us free run to every department and invited us to walk up and down each isle.  Can you believe that?  We met one employee and told her who we were.  She said she knew about Brazos Meadows.  When we asked her how, she pulled out our Outreach card and said we paid for her laundry last month.  Pretty cool huh?  I don’t know where she stands “spiritually” but if she’s not a believer, I’ll guarantee her attitude about God and the church are changing! 

We visited everything from gas stations, to fast food restaurants and even hotels.  Some were a bit skeptical (which is understandable) but we were well received by all.  We even had one of our Youth pray for the night manager at Domino’s Pizza.  Can you imagine having an 11th grader come to your job, show you God’s love by handing out some baked goodies and then offering to pray for you and your family?  Incredible stuff!

By the way, if you show up to your local Police Department at 1:30am (with a couple of bags in hand), they will dispatch  officers to check you out. We have a great relationship with our PD so everything was fine.  They were very grateful that we thought of them too.  So other than a few people falling asleep in SS, I’d say it was a great success.

Hopefully this email will encourage you that God is using Kindness Outreach in different churches all around the nation to reach people. We will be having more pastors, from different church, write articles and share stories in the months to come. If you would like to be apart of this, please contact me.

In the past few weeks we have had a Church wide outreach on valentines day, a small group take out trash at a local apartment, and our Haiti mission team pass out soda’s and popcorn the day before the Super Bowl. Here is an outline of what we did and some highlights of each outreach.

1. Superbowl Outreach

Something we have done with our Haiti mission teams for the past few years is have the team serve together on a kindness outreach before actually leaving on our trip. We have noticed that the team bonds serving together and expedites the time it takes for a mission team to gel.  If you lead mission teams this is something you should consider.

The day before the Super Bowl our team passed out free popcorn and Dr. peppers door to door at an on campus college apartment. Every time we can, we ask the people we are serving if we can say a quick 10 second prayer, and then ask for specifics. A lot of times the 10 second prayer takes the initial touch of Kindness to a much deeper level. On this outreach we were able to pray for grades, baseball teams, injuries and broken families.

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2. Trash Takeout

Small groups play a huge part in our church’s outreach DNA. We ask that our small groups do a kindness outreach on a frequent basis. This past week our young adult small group went to the same on campus apartment mentioned before to take out trash from the student’s apartments to the centralized dumpster and pray 10 second prayers. We like to frequent serving the same places so they know were are committed to loving them in a way Jesus would, rather than saying “Hey we served here, check them off the list”

trashtake outphotophoto

The day after this small group did this outreach we got this exciting and encouraging message:

Hi, I’m a student here at Weatherford College. You guys came by yesterday and prayed for my Roomate and I. And to be really honestly with you something feels different today. I have been going threw a lot with my parents and with school and after that prayer I felt like I wanted to start new again. Start going to church and start being a better person. I wanted to say thank you so much. And hopefully I’ll be seeing you Sunday.

This message highlights the power of praying for those we are serving after the initial touch of kindness.

3. Valentines Day Outreach

On Valentines day we held a church wide outreach where we sent out teams to pass out free valentines day candy with a connection card. Our teams went to parks, businesses, and nursing homes. We passed out nearly 700 packs in just and hour and a half!

A highlight of this outreach came when two girls in our youth group went to a park to pass out the candy packs. Here is their story:

Regan and I were handing out candy at Cartwright Park and we were surprised that no one was there. The only people that were there were all in meeting.  There was a woman off to the side of the meeting watching two children. She and I were debating on whether or not to approach her or if we should just continue on with outreaching to a fuller park. She asked me what I wanted to do and I replied with a casual “I dont know” and started to walk to the woman without really realizing it. Regan followed. We got to the woman, and after reading the card, she looked like she was going to tear up and just said “God truly is good.” She proceeded to tell us that she was a godly woman, but her brother had strayed away from God.  She said she knew God was at work and we just further proved it. We prayed for her, her brother, and her two daughters, and left amazed in God and how He used us. We couldn’t believe we almost left 

From this experience we learned an important element to us reaching out to our community. Although primarily we are reaching out to draw not-yet believers to Christ, God uses our team to encourage other believers to reach out to their friends and family that might not know Christ. It is a blessing to encourage other believers to reach out. I truly believe we won’t know the total effectiveness of reaching out with no strings attached until we get to heaven. God is a God that is not random, and we believe He has a plan for everyone of the people we serve on each of our outreaches.

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Valentines Day can be extremely lonely for some people. We like to go around passing out packets with Valentines day candy and an outreach card packed in them to businesses to let people know that God loves and cares for them in a practical way. We usually simply tell people what we are doing, thank them for working on a holiday, and after we give out the candy packs we ask if we can say a quick 10 second prayer for those we are serving.

One lady that we met on this outreach, who now attends our church, said that she actually threw away the candy due to her diet, but she remembered the kindness and 10 second prayer.

This is a profound statement. Many people are reminded that they are alone on valentines day, but when we step out to love through simple acts of kindness done with no strings attached, even if those we are serving aren’t wanting what we are materially offering, God’s kindness and love moves through us to reach those that are hurting and lonely.

A friend of mine that has been doing Kindness Outreach around Waco is leading a group that is going to go out around midnight on valentines night and give out brownies to those having to work. Love that idea.

What you Need:

Small Plastic Bag

Valentines Day Candy

Connection Card

Where To Go:

Businesses

Parks

Apartment Complexes

IMG_0241

IMG_0242