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Talk

What do the video and song lyrics seem to say about the state of the world and the problems to be fixed?

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Read alternate story

Read

One summer, I was part of a group of college students who rented a short-term apartment in a low-income, inner-city neighborhood. We wanted to learn firsthand about God’s heart for the poor and homeless, so we tried to get to know our neighbors in the complex. Problem was, people rarely ventured out of their homes and hardly seemed to know each other. Most wouldn’t even open their doors if we knocked. While we were having fun living together in our apartment, we figured most of our neighbors were lonely and isolated.

I also spent time on the streets getting to know homeless people. I was struck (and embarrassed) by how little I could do to help them. One man was trapped in a Catch-22: He needed a job to afford an apartment. He needed a photo ID to get a job. He needed a mailing address to get an ID. I wanted to help him, but what could I do? I couldn’t give him a place to live, a job, or an ID. I quickly felt in over my head.

Talk

On a scale of 1 to 10, how empowered do you feel to change the problems of our world? Why?

Context

The Bible calls Christians “the body of Christ.” As a song by Christian songwriter John Michael Talbot puts it, “Christ has no body here but yours; no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks, compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.” So Jesus intends to carry out his purposes and plans in the world through us. But how?

In this passage, Jesus took the limited resources of his disciples and combined them with his power to meet a great need. By this point, the disciples had seen Jesus perform miracles like cast out demons, bring a girl back from death, and heal a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. This passage begins when the disciples returned from traveling in pairs to nearby villages to preach and serve others.

Read

Take turns reading verses from Mark 6:30-44.

Talk

  1. What had Jesus’ disciples been doing and how do you think they were feeling as this story began?
  2. If you were one of the disciples, how would you have reacted when you saw a crowd had followed you to where you were trying to rest? How did Jesus react?
  3. As the end of the day approached, how did the disciples feel when Jesus told them to provide food for the people?
  4. If you were one of the disciples, how would you have felt as you distributed enough food for 5,000 men (plus women and children), then picked up 12 extra baskets afterward?
  5. What did Jesus teach the disciples about himself through this experience?
  6. In this story, Jesus showed that he has miraculous power. Why do you think he used the food that the disciples already had, rather than from another source?
  7. What does this story teach us about how God can use us?

The problems in our world are big—too big for us to tackle on our own. But Jesus shows that if we offer the loaves and fishes we do have, that he can use his amazing power to transform them into something that makes a major impact. And as we obey his instructions, we sometimes get to see miracles happen right before our eyes.

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Read alternate story

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After our first week of inner city living, my roommates and I decided to take stock of our resources and brainstorm how we could use them to serve our neighbors. We prayed God would use our small means (and somewhat peculiar ideas) to accomplish His work.

We decided to eat no-frills meals for two weeks, scrape together the money we’d save doing so, and use it to throw a barbecue for our apartment complex. We also wanted to serve people in humble ways like Jesus had, so we bought cleaning supplies and went around asking if we could clean apartments. Some people still didn’t open their doors when we knocked—most seemed puzzled by our offer of free housecleaning—but many took flyers for our barbecue.

A middle-aged woman named Linda was one of the few people who let us into her apartment. She had no furniture inside. One of her only decorations was a picture of Jesus on the wall. When she learned why we were there, she excitedly shared that she had been homeless until three weeks ago when God had finally made it possible for her to rent the apartment. She was excited to meet other Christians, and we prayed together before we left her place.

Twenty neighbors came to the barbecue, including Linda. Everyone laughed and chatted as we ate. I was most excited that people were talking to each other, even though they hadn’t known each other previously. “We should do this more often,” I heard one resident say.

Even though we certainly didn’t solve the problems we’d encountered, I felt sure that God had been at work, encouraging Linda and kindling a desire for community within the apartment complex. What's more, as we tried to faithfully use what little we had to offer, I felt like God showed us how God was working in the lives of the people we met.

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Pray

May God bless you with discomfort

At easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships

So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger

At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,

So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears

To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,

So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness

To believe that you can make a difference in the world,

So that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Amen

Group & Individual Plans

  1. As a group, plan a service activity to do near campus. Is there a homeless shelter, food bank, retirement home, or hospital where you could volunteer together?
  2. Make a short list of some people you see in a typical week. What needs do you see in their lives? Friendship? Tutoring? Food?
  3. Make a list of resources you’d be willing to offer to God—your own “loaves and fishes.” Think about material items (money, food, a car to lend), as well as non-material (academic knowledge, musical ability, being a good listener). What resources do you have that may seem small to you, but Jesus could multiply?

The Big Story

Most people ache for a better world. If you have friends or family who fit that description, you can share what you've learned during this session, and also talk them through a step-by-step presentation of Jesus' plan to heal the world found in the Big Story gospel outline. It's both an app and a booklet (PDF) you can use as a tool designed to lead others to make a decision for Jesus Christ and join his mission to heal the world.

You'll also find a video walk-through of a similar gospel presentation below in the Videos section. It will help you learn how to share the presentation by drawing it on paper for someone if you don't have the booklet on hand.

Reminder

During the session, you brainstormed a list of people you could serve and resources you could offer. What is one way you've followed through on this so far?

Video

York Moore talks about our responsibility as Christians to bring people to Christ and to bring change to the world. This is an honest and powerful testimony of how God can use you to be about his purposes.

The Big Story gospel presentation was adapted from a book called True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In written by James Choung. It will help you explain why and how faith in Jesus really matters in a broken world.

The Price of Life is an example of a week-long justice event held on the Ohio State campus to raise money, awareness, and advocacy to fight modern-day slavery and sexual exploitation.

Sites

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. Today, Compassion helps more than 1 million children in 26 countries.

The A21 Campaign comprises individuals, organizations, government officials, and people like you who are committed to abolishing injustice in the 21st century. Our goal is to raise awareness, take legal action where appropriate, and offer rehabilitation services to rescued victims of human trafficking in order to fight this injustice from a comprehensive approach.

Giving Children Hope is a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty (domestically and abroad) through disaster relief, health and community development, vocational training and advocacy.

The Global Urban Trek is a summer project that places students in slum communities around the world. The Trek is essentially about opening up an opportunity for God to call some of us to go and spend our lives among the poor as his couriers of hope.

Hagar is an international Christian organization committed to the recovery, empowerment and reintegration of women and children in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Vietnam.

IJM is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to promote functioning public justice systems.

The Not For Sale Campaign can equip and mobilize you to deploy innovative solutions to re-abolish slavery in your own backyard and across the globe.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

Every year, 200 million Christians suffer some form of persecution around the world. Persecution is rarely reported on in the media and therefore most of the Western Church has no idea of the suffering of this part of our body. Persecution.org exists to relieve the suffering of the worldwide persecuted church and to act as a bridge between the Western church and their suffering brothers and sisters.

Books

Written by two of today's leading Christian activists, this book gives a stirring call to bring together prayer and action.

Child abuse, ethnic cleansing, AIDS, terrorism. It's shocking. But, N. T. Wright says, you shouldn't be surprised. In fact, evil is more serious than either our culture or our theology has supposed. Wright explores how to envision a world in which people are delivered from evil, and how you can work toward such a future through prayer and justice now.

What makes real reconciliation possible? How is it that some people are able to forgive the most horrendous of evils? And what role does God play in these stories? Does reconciliation make any sense apart from the biblical story of redemption?

Author Chris Heuertz believes that any true path to spiritual sight ought to be simple. He's found, in the Bible and in his work with impoverished people, evidence of a simple spirituality. This way of humility, community, simplicity, submission and brokenness will help you see - no matter how dark things get.

God is in the business of using the unlikely to accomplish justice and mercy. Haugen's challenging and encouraging book offers stories of courageous Christians who have stood up for justice in the face of human trafficking, forced prostitution, racial and religious persecution, and torture.

This is a story of how a CEO faced his own struggle to obey God, whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith.

The true story of an undercover investigator's experiences infiltrating the multi-billion dollar global sex industry. A challenge to God's people to join in the battle that all might be freed.

In this engaging narrative, disillusioned believer Caleb and hostile skeptic Anna wrestle with the Christian story in a world of pain and suffering, asking tough questions and discovering more than they ever heard about in church.

Every day you are confronted by challenging societal problems. But while no one can do everything, you can do something. This handbook will help you discover what you can do about: sex trafficking, domestic violence, living wage initiatives, debt relief, environmental stewardship, bioethics, and more.

Learn how to live your life on God's mission--whoever you are, whatever you do, wherever you go.

Audio

An Urbana09 seminar presented by Conrad Mandsgar and Charles Opiro. Running time 87:06.

An Urbana09 seminar presented by Navin Singh. Running time 65:41.

An Urbana09 seminar presented by Ben Lowe. Running time 59:28.

An Urbana09 seminar presented by N. Sachindra Samarante. Running time 59:03.

An Urbana09 seminar presented by Mark Russell. Running time 86:54.

An Urbana09 seminar presented by Lisa Sharon Harper and R. Anderson. Running time 69:45.

An Urbana09 seminar presented by Rich Tobias. Running time 91:45.

An Urbana09 seminar presented by Kerry Hilton. Running time 97:28.

An Urbana09 seminar presented by Mark and Laurie Russell. Running time 66:13.

An Urbana09 seminar presented by Sarah Young. Running time 64:28.

Articles

Find out how the InterVarsity chapter at the University of Montana mobilized students to go beyond the impersonal statistics of HIV/AIDS and take action.

Read how students at Ohio State did something about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa right from home on their campus.