Over the next weeks and months, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will be sharing reflections from our CBF field personnel serving around the world. These are stories of impact and outreach, Gospel-sharing and relationship building, long-term presence and abundant love.
The following is a reflection from CBF field personnel Jon Parks, who serves in Kosice, Slovakia, alongside his wife, Tanya. You can learn more about their ministries and support their work at www.cbf.net/parks.
“What do you need right now?”
It’s a simple question, but a powerful one. We’ve known a lot of our ministry partners over the years and have worked side-by-side with them in lots of situations. So, it’s easy for us to look around and assume we know what they need. And sometimes we would be right.
But in a time when COVID-19 has changed all of our lives in so many ways, we’ve also found that people answer differently now than they used to. The things that were once important aren’t so important anymore, and there are some needs we never would have expected to encounter a year ago.
That’s why we’ve started asking this question wherever we went this fall. We’re trying not to assume, but to be careful to ask and to really listen—not just to the answer, but the way in which it’s answered.
Some requests are ones we can easily help with. One village school needed pencils, pens and markers. Most of the Roma men in this village have lost their jobs in the last few months, as COVID has affected the region’s economy. The families weren’t able to send proper supplies with the children, and the school didn’t have the money to buy them. Could we help?
The Roma school here in Kosice city said they need balls, chalk and outdoor games for the children to use during recess times. With the restrictions on student movement between classrooms in the schools, these kinds of items were going to be needed more than ever now. Could we help?
One social worker said there was a family with several children whose parents had lost their jobs and needed food. Another mentioned a few families who needed help with bus tickets for their children to attend school in the city. Could we help?
Because of so many people who give generously to our ministry each month, we could answer with a resounding “YES!”
But we don’t simply listen to the answer, we also try to listen to the way in which people answer. Sometimes, we can tell that they need a lot more than practical things—they need encouragement, hope, prayer together. These things can’t be bought with money, but we’re able to give them because so many people give generously to the Offering for Global Missions that makes it possible for us to be present here.
And it all comes back to the question: “What do you need right now?”
What do the people around you need right now? Do you know, or are you just assuming? The answers might surprise you. And you might also be surprised to see how God moves you to act in response!