- Understand how to plan for an Act of Love.
- Choose an Act of Love to do for their own area.
- Create a plan.
Divide into small groups of 5-7 people to plan.
Start by having the groups read through the notes in their student books. See if they have any questions. Then ask them to start thinking about what they plan to do as an Act of Love. After five minutes, stop the group and ask them what they plan to do. Make sure each are suitable activities. Often groups are ambitious and plan much larger projects. Encourage them to choose something smaller. The smaller the project is, the more likely they are to actually implement it and the more likely it is to succeed. Those that start with large projects are more likely to experience setbacks and become discouraged.
Give each group a large piece of paper in which to write their plan so they are able to share it with the other students. As each group presents, invite the other students to help them see what possible problems there could be so that the groups have the opportunity to improve their plans. Help them to see areas that might not yet be well thought through.
Step 1: Prayer
The first thing to do is to pray. Take time now to pray. Ask God to show you what you should do for your Act of Love.
Step 2: Selecting an Activity
As a group, decide what you could do as an Act of Love. Look at some of the ideas that you listed in the lessons “God wants the church to help” and “What are some of the needs in the community.” Together, agree on what you feel God is leading you to do.
Once you have selected a topic, make sure it is something that you can do in just one or two days. If it isn’t, then can you just do one or two steps?
Step 3: Decide What is Needed
The next step is to start planning. First, we must decide what we need to do the project—what people are required, what materials, what permission, etc. To help you think about this, you can use the worksheet in your student book. Once you have filled in the first column with everything that you will need, then you can decide who will be responsible and what date it needs to be completed by.
Step 4: Write the Plan
Make sure your plan answers these questions. (If the group has low literacy then it isn’t so important that the plan is written, but make sure they have discussed each of these questions.)
- What are you going to do?
- What do you need to do it? Where will you get those things?
- Who are you going to help? Have you asked them?
- Who is going to participate in helping?
- What date are you going to do it?
Step 5: Pray
Once you have finished writing the plan, take time to pray again. Ask God to help you complete the project and to multiply the results. Pray that His name may be glorified. During the next week or two while you are preparing for your project, you should be praying that God would help you with the project.
Step 6: Do the Project
The next step is to do the project that you planned. Start the day with prayer and dedicate your efforts to God. Remember that you are doing this project to demonstrate God’s love to your community. Try to maintain an attitude that matches this goal.
Step 7: Evaluate and Report
The final step is to report and evaluate. Why do we need to evaluate? Because it helps us to learn. We can think about what we did well and what we can do to improve next time. It doesn’t need to be a long process; you can just take a few minutes to discuss these questions:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- What improvements could you make to the plan?
- Was the response as you intended? If not, why not?
- Was God glorified?
The trainer has a report form for you. Why do we do a report? In Mark 6:30, we see that the disciples reported to Jesus all that they had done. We report as a matter of faithfulness and gratitude to those that have taught us and prepared materials and trainers for us. Reporting gives you the opportunity to share what you did and gives testimony to how God used your efforts. It also gives the trainers the opportunity to see if there were any problems and find ways to better serve you in the future.
Appendix 1: The Story of Pastor Wong
There once was a pastor of a small church in a very poor, urban barrio of a large city. His name was Wong. Wong had recently moved into the community because he felt God had sent him. The church was small—about 40 people. They were mostly women and children. Wong had two jobs. He worked at another job in order to provide for his wife and two small children, and he also did his best to pastor his little flock.
One day, as was his custom, he rose an hour before daybreak to have a private time with God. He got up, dressed, and slipped quietly past the curtain that separated the living quarters of his one-room house from the area where his wife and children continued to sleep. He lit the small tin can filled with kerosene, topped with a wick. He began to read from his Bible. On this particular morning, he was reading from Isaiah, chapter 58, and was hearing God’s cry for the kind of worship He wants:
Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Wong could go no further. His heart fought with his mind. How could God care so much for the poor when Wong found himself in the midst of poverty and suffering that broke his heart? He knew how the people of his community struggled to survive. They were truly oppressed. Even he had barely enough to feed his family and often couldn’t buy them the medicine they needed. He thought, “Where is God? How can this Scripture fit in with the needs here in Las Pavas?”
While he was struggling with these thoughts, there was a quiet knock at the door. “Who could that be, so early in the morning?” Wong thought. He went to the door. “Who is it?” The voice on the other side said, “I’m Jesus, Wong.” “Who?” asked Wong. “I’m Jesus, Wong,” the voice replied. “Who are you, really?” asked Wong. The voice responded, “Wong, I’m Jesus. I’ve come because I heard the cry of your heart. I want you to show me what is troubling you.”
The voice sounded genuine. Wong carefully unhooked the latch and opened the door. It was still dark and Wong could see only a silhouette, but it looked like who he imagined Jesus to be. “Come in, Lord,” Wong said. “No, Wong, I want you to take me through your community and show me what it is that breaks your heart.” Still surprised, Wong agreed, warning, “We’ll have to walk carefully—it’s been raining hard, there’s lots of basura, and we don’t have many latrines.”
As they walked through the streets of the barrio, Wong told Jesus the stories of the houses they passed. In that one lived a woman who sold herself to feed her kids. In the next shack there was an alcoholic husband who beat his wife and kids every time he got drunk—which was often. Over there was the home of the patronato president, a corrupt man who extorted money on the promise of getting electricity for the community—but drank and gambled it away.
They passed an open place in the middle of the community. It was supposed to be a community square, but it was filled with foul-smelling garbage and scurrying rats. “See that house?” asked Wong, pointing to a shack on the brink of the hill. “A woman and four kids live there. The roof leaks—badly. They are very poor. They have very little to eat or wear, and they’re almost always sick.” By this time the two were at the edge of the hill on which Las Pavas was built. Wong pointed in the distance. “Way down there—that’s where the women and children walk to get water. There isn’t any water in Las Pavas.”
Wong started to turn the corner, but he heard a soft weeping. He looked toward the sound. It was Jesus—Jesus was crying! Wong could see that the same things that broke his own heart also broke the heart of Jesus. Wong started to speak, but Jesus reached out and put His arm around Wong, looked at him, and said, “Wong, I want to show you what my intentions are for Las Pavas.”
Suddenly, Wong found himself looking down on Las Pavas. Jesus began to speak, and Wong could see the things that Jesus described—they were taking place! Jesus talked about the people in Wong’s church—as poor as they were—sharing what they had with their poorer neighbors. Daily, they saved a little rice and put it in a can. At the end of the week, they each had a full can of rice which they brought to the church to share, in Jesus’ name, with community people who had less than they did. They did the same with soap. The church ladies visited the widows in the community and “adopted” them—helping them wash, cook, and care for their children when they were sick.
Jesus talked about employment, and Wong could see that the people had work. Not high-paying jobs, but jobs that gave dignity and paid enough to meet basic necessities. Jesus talked about housing, and Wong saw the shacks that let in the cold and rain were changed into houses. Not fancy houses, but houses that were safe and clean. Jesus talked about water, and suddenly there were standpipes in strategic places where women and children were getting clean water. Jesus talked about sanitation, and Wong could see that there were latrines—not one for every house, but enough that everyone had access to one. And the garbage heap in the center of the community was gone. Instead, there were little trees, and there were children laughing and playing, kicking a ball. Jesus also talked about transformed lives, and Wong saw that the woman who had been selling her body now supported her kids with a respectable job. The drunkard was now a loving husband and dad. The patronato president wasn’t using money dishonestly, but was really helping the community.
Then Jesus said, “Wong, look at the church!” Wong looked. It was full. There were men there! The people were happy. They were praising God for His goodness. There was Wong, preaching, teaching, and leading his people in the Spirit and in acts of obedient love. Jesus explained, “Wong, this vision won’t come in its fullness until I return, but this is my intention for Las Pavas. I want you to share this vision and begin to lead the people of Las Pavas toward it.”
Wong started to protest, “But, Lord, we’re so poor!” “Wong,” asked Jesus quietly, “who led the children of Israel across the Red Sea? Who multiplied the loaves and fish and fed five thousand men plus women and children? Who stretched the oil and flour of the widow of Zarephath so that there was enough to feed her family for three years of famine? Who calmed the Sea of Galilee?” “You did, Lord,” said Wong. “Then, Wong, be obedient to what I have asked you to do. Share what you have, even though it is little. Proclaim my good intentions for your people—both spiritually and physically. And I will heal your land!”
Wong heard a rooster crow. His wife coughed and stirred on the other side of the curtain. He was sitting at the table, but his lamp had gone out. It was becoming light. Wong looked around for Jesus, but didn’t see Him. He wondered, “Did I have a dream? Was it a vision?” He didn’t know, but Wong did know that he had been met by Jesus and that he had a new understanding of God’s concern for the poor…and a fresh vision of how he was to lead his people to exhibit God’s love in Las Pavas.