- Understand the characteristics of an Act of Love.
- Understand how Acts of Love can bring changes to a community.
- Have some ideas of what they could do as an Act of Love.
Ask the group to divide into pairs. Each pair is to think of as many things as possible that could be done by their church to help people without spending any money at all. Tell them that they have seven minutes and the pair with the most answers will receive a prize. After three minutes, remind them to think about all the skills that people have in their church that could be donated.
Acts of Love
Acts of Love are small projects that are done by the church to demonstrate God’s love to their community. Usually they are very simple and can be done in a day.
Share some stories of Acts of Love – you can find some on our website (www.TCTprogram.org/stories)
What were some of the results of these projects?
- The church was strengthened
- The community was closer to the church
- People came to Christ
- People were helped
- The Act of Love was able to grow into a larger project
Characteristics of an Act of Love
1. Done to show God’s love
As a large group discuss
- What impression do non-Christians have of Christians in your community? Why?
- Do people ever come to church without being invited? Why or why not?
- What impression do non-Christians have of God? What do they think are the main characteristics of God?
Remind the class of the lessons learned in Lesson 3: Love God and Love Our Neighbor. We need to be people that demonstrate our love to God by loving our neighbor.
- What do you think people in your community would say if your church started to do some of the things mentioned in the Acts of Love stories?
One of the key goals of an Act of Love is to show God’s love to your community.
- Should Acts of Love be done for Christians or non-Christians?
We need to do Acts of Love for non-Christians because they really need to see God’s love for them. Most people will never go to church so it is only as we go out and demonstrate God’s love that they will be able to understand God’s love for them. However, we do want to make sure we also help those in the church. We recommend you start with something that shows love to a non-Christian or the whole community but feel free to move to projects that also help believers.
2. Done in obedience to God
As with everything, we want to make sure we are always walking in obedience to God. Rather than doing a community survey to understand the needs and using that, we want to start with prayer, asking God what He wants us to do. Often the most impactful Acts of Love are not the things that make sense.
In Mexico, there was a village where all the people were drug growers. A missionary went to the area and all the people were converted. The missionary then continued to pray and fast with them as they sought to know what God wanted them to do. In their community they had no latrines, no clean water, and the pigs and chickens would walk in and out of the house. As they prayed about the idea of an Act of love, God showed them that they should care for the widows by building houses for them. This was completely different from the advice anyone would have given them. In their culture, the leaders are very important but they also had poor quality houses. Anyone in the community would have advised them to start by building new houses for the leaders. But God called them to care for the widows. They were obedient to God and built new houses for the widows. Consequently, the people in nearby villages heard about this unusual project and came to find out more. As a result, a revival broke out in their area with many people giving their lives to the Lord. If they had done what everyone expected, they would not have seen the same impact. However, because they were obedient to God and not their culture, the impact was incredible.
In another country, the church decided to do an Act of Love. They felt that God was telling them to help the wife of the gang leader in the area. They were fearful, as the gang leader had a reputation for becoming very angry and beating up people will little reason. However, the church wanted to obey God. They waited until the gang leader was out of town and they helped his wife to harvest the fields and prepare the crops for selling. When the gang leader came home, he saw all the crops harvested and started to shout, “Who did this?” She was afraid to tell him, fearful he would make trouble, but eventually confessed that the church had helped. The gang leader stormed off to the church and pounded the door. The pastor answered (after calling the deacons for back up) and the gang leader came in. “Why did you do that,” he demanded. They replied that they simply wanted to show God’s love. The man started to cry, sharing that no one had ever loved him before in his life. He became a Christian, turned his life around, and went on to lead six more families from the gang to Christ.
- How did the church decide who to show God’s love to?
- What was the impact or change in the community?
3. Done through God’s strength
Look at John 15: 1-8
- How much can we do by ourselves?
- How do we bear much fruit?
Helping people can be really hard. Only God can really bring the change we hope to see in our communities. If we want to see our communities changed through these projects, we really need to be looking to God and asking Him for help.
- In John 15:5 the Bible says: “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” What do you think it means to remain in God?
Reading the Bible to seek God’s truth. Asking for direction and guidance in understanding the needs of your community. Faithfully seeking God in prayer and listening quietly for His wisdom. Asking the Lord to give you the strength to carry out the Act of Love project.
As we seek God in prayer, listen and remain in Him. We can trust that in His time our project will bear good fruit.
- How can we trust in God’s strength during these projects?
We should always be praying before, during, and after we do the projects.
4. Done so that God is praised
Read John 15:8
- What is the purpose of bearing much fruit?
Read Matthew 5:13-16
- Why do we do good deeds?
- What should our goal be when we do Acts of Love?
After we do each project, we should take time to evaluate. What was the result of this project? Think about three areas:
- Were the people helped?
- Was the project done in a loving way?
- Was God praised?
The reality is that not every time we do an Act of Love will we have the opportunity to speak about God, but it should be our desire to make sure that we are glorifying God at all times and doing things in such a way that honors Him.
5. Small and Simple
When you first start doing Acts of Love, we encourage you to choose things that are very simple. Ideally, they should be able to be done in a day.
- Why do you think it is important to start with small and simple Acts of Love?
- Able to complete it. If we do something large then it is easy to get overwhelmed and harder to achieve it. However, if we do something small and simple then we are more likely to actually do it and get finished.
- More people can get involved. It is easier for people to sign up for a small project and commit to it if they know that it’s just one day or an afternoon. They will say “Oh, I can do that. I am free that afternoon”. But if it is a big project (that takes many days to finish) then people are more hesitate to commit their time and resources, especially the idea of doing something for other is still new to them.
- Opportunity to build our skills. Maybe we haven’t had much experience in doing projects. This gives us the opportunity to do something similar and get experience before we try to do something much more complicated.
- Quickly successful. As we are successful in small projects, we get others to join who are attracted by the success. Maybe when you first start only a few in the church will be interested in participating, but as you teach more and model successful projects more people will be interested in joining.
It is better to do small Acts of Love frequently (once every week or two weeks) than to do a big project as a one off thing. In addition to all the advantages of doing small Acts of Love as listed above, doing frequently also helps to imprint the image of the church caring in the mind people in the community.
6. Done using local resources
- Why do you think that one of the characteristics is that it is done with local resources – those resources that God already provided you and not from outside? Why do you think that this is important?
- More of a demonstration of love.
- Think about the story of the sari’s in lesson 5. Do you think it would have had the same impact if it had just been a large NGO that brought the sari’s to the community? No, it would not.
- Why did the people feel loved?
- More of a demonstration of love.
It was because they saw the love of the people as they sacrificed. If the community doesn’t feel that any sacrifice or effort went into it, they will not see God’s love towards them in the same way.
- The blessings of giving. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. God has told us that he will bless those who give in the same measure as we give. However, look again at these verses.
- Why does God bless us?
So we can be generous on every occasion
So that God will be praised
As churches have given generously we have seen them blessed by God. They have started to move out of poverty. But even more importantly as they have more they are able to be even more generous and do even more projects. It’s an exciting cycle that has lead many communities to move out of poverty.
- Do you think we would see the same results if we used outside resources?
Not in the same way – God has promised to bless those who give not those who receive. If we are only receivers then we miss out on seeing God multiply our efforts. We miss out on some of the blessing he has promised.
Using outside resources can have significant challenges. For example in our area people are very suspicious of the church. It’s not uncommon for people to suspect the church has taken some of the resources for themselves and just only give part of it to outsider. Outside funds also can easily cause problems for the church. Even within the church, Satan can use outside resources to cause suspicion and disunity amongst churches.
- What if we have no resources?
- We do. We need to open our eyes to what God has given us. What are some of the skills in our community (farmers, teachers, doctors, engineers, construction workers, tailors)? What are some of the skills that we as humans have (our bodies, minds, creativity, time)? We need to exercise creativity to see what God has given us.
- 2 Peter 1:3-5 talks about the fact that God has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness so we need to open our eyes to see and use what we are given for His glory.
Think back to the ideas that were presented in the opening exercise of this lesson. Form your groups of pairs again and select three of these activities to evaluate. Consider the following questions:
- How does this activity help you show God’s love in the community? What could be added or changed to this activity to better show God’s love?
- Is this a small and simple project that can be done in a day’s time?
- Are the resources needed to complete this project readily available in your community?
- How does this activity change the community? Is this the type of change you would like to see in your community? If not, how could this activity be altered to better impact your community?
- Do you think God would be glorified by completing this activity?