The Church at Work, Part 4

Mercy

Series: The Church at Work

by David Apple July 6, 2016

“. . . this church opens wide her doors and offers her welcome in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” For over thirty years now, our homeless and poor neighbors have learned to respect and love the hospitality and welcome they receive through Tenth’s mercy ministry.

When did the mercy ministry start? “Tenth Mercy”—i.e., ACTS—began in 1984 with a Thanksgiving dinner attended by forty homeless men and women. The following year, ACTS instituted its second Sunday Community Dinner—a restaurant-style banquet with table hosts from Tenth and servers from various youth groups. The dinner followed the ACTS worship service. Over one hundred attended these. Then Fellowship Bible Study began in 1989 with fifteen to twenty people who attended the dinners. These men and women sought a better existence and believed Jesus can make a difference in their lives. Tenth members sought to be light in the darkness as they established relationships with the dinner guests. 

What “sparked” the ministry? It was during a bitterly cold night in 1982. A small group was leaving the church building after Bible study when they came across a homeless person sleeping on Tenth’s Spruce Street steps. This encounter sparked a response in them that helping homeless neighbors should be a part of Tenth’s mission (Tenth members had increasingly seen the needs of “street people” in the area). Soon the Bible study approached Tenth’s deacons and asked for leadership in the establishment of a new diaconal ministry to the poor. Over time church support grew and the new mercy committee chose the acronym ACTS (Active Compassion Through Service) to represent Tenth’s expanding vision of a word and deed ministry to homeless persons and others.

Why do homeless people come to Tenth? Many homeless go to churches for help and are disappointed and turn away (or are turned away). They are not welcomed in most churches. But Tenth is different. The fact that we are hospitable is known “on the street” and by certain agencies. One agency referred a man named Roland to me. He had just been released from prison and, because of past experiences, was suspicious of churches. Yet, the shelter supervisor told him good things about Tenth. The result was Roland visited with me every week for Bible study, counsel, and prayer. Soon he was building a better life for himself. He rededicated his life to Christ, began worshiping at Tenth, and found employment and housing. Similarly, Greg heard good things about Tenth. He slept just outside a travel agency that had photos of exotic places in the window. And there was an awning that kept him dry when it rained. Like many others he had tried Zen and Buddha and Islam, but they all became distasteful to him. One cold Sunday, he tried Tenth. There he developed friendships and “met Jesus.” His life changed completely. 

What difference do we make? Seeing people come to salvation in Christ is the biggest difference we make. Through our many contacts, there is also recovery from addiction, life skills and job training, employment, crime reduction, reconciliation and family re-unification, godly relationships, church membership, increased evangelism, and more. ACTS Ministries was designed to provide new life in Christ. Many years ago, a man named Daniel became homeless. During this season of life he found a spiritual home at Tenth and Fellowship Bible Study. He studied and worshiped with us until his health failed. At his memorial service earlier this year, I gave assurance to his relatives and friends of how much he loved the Lord. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 115:16). 

Through Tenth Mercy, lost people are being saved and discipled. Many become members of Tenth and other churches. ACTS demonstrates the transforming power of Jesus Christ to “set the captives free” from addictions to alcohol and other drugs. The Mercy Ministry makes Christ real, makes Tenth more credible to our neighbors, and makes an eternal difference in people’s lives. 

If you would like to help us make a difference, contact David Apple.