Evangelizing through Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

Evangelizing through Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

This past Sunday as we reflected on our Lenten resolutions at my parish, our pastor encouraged me to consider resolutions that will not just benefit me but that will bear fruit for the kingdom. What if we chose resolutions that build up the kingdom in active ways? What would it look like to have an evangelical Lent? Here are our top 5 evangelical Lenten resolutions for 2017, directly from EC Staff:

Resolution One: PRAYER

Take the 1% Challenge: 15 minutes daily in God’s Word
I love early morning texts. Not 4:00 AM early. More like 6:30 – 7 AM early. I love to know that other men are seizing the day and waking the dawn. When they text me, I know that we are in this day together.
Would Jesus text me in the morning? What would he text me? And what does Jesus’ bitmoji look like? Good questions. Let’s cut to the chase. 
Jesus got up early, he left the house, he went to a lonely spot, and he prayed. (Mark 1) Jesus and his Father had a time and a place to meet every day. Jesus safeguarded that time. It was non-negotiable. This was his modus operandi. 
Why? 
For two simple reasons. To know His Father and to save your soul. He spent time with his Father to know him, and by knowing the Father he knew how to save your soul. 
At the key moment on Holy Thursday, Jesus said to his Father “not my will but yours be done.” Then, knowing all that would happen to him, he said to the men sent to capture him, “I am he.” 
This lent, let’s be like Jesus! Get up early, leave your bed, find a lonely spot, and get to know the Father’s heart. We call it the 1% Challenge™. Give God one percent of your day. That’s 14 minutes and 24 seconds. Make it the non-negotiable. 
I guarantee that if you give the Father 1% of your day this lent, then on Holy Thursday, you will be able to say with Jesus, “I am he.” You will know that you are the beloved child of God. You will know the Father. And you heart will be pounding with the same love that Jesus had for the salvation of the world. 
-Joshua Dart, Campus Ministry Consultant

Resolution Two: FASTING

Fast for a friend to know Jesus
“Man does not live on bread alone” – Luke 4:4
We fast for a lot of reasons. We fast because we want to improve on the sweets intake. We fast because we want to use it as a form of repentance. We fast because we want to be in solidarity with someone else. You might have already planned to give up something this Lent and this is good. You probably already know that by sacrificing this good, we allow ourselves to cling to him who satisfies our hunger and thirst. But fasting does not mean to merely improve something, but is a sacrifice of something good for something better: life with Jesus. Even more, it can be used to open the door for someone to encounter that life with Jesus. 
Why did Jesus fast? He certainly didn’t need to repent. He was already one in being with the Father. He fasted because he wanted to offer his entire self to the Father in complete sacrifice. We should also fast to offer ourselves totally to the Father through Jesus. What we might not know is that as Jesus fasted to offer himself totally to the Father, foreshadowing his work on the Cross for the sake of humanity, we too can offer our sacrifice for the sake of someone in our life. 
We pray in order to knock at the door of the Father’s heart and we fast to open the door to that prayer. This fasting should be for the opening of ourselves to a bread that will always satisfy, but this fasting could be for the person who doesn’t know the bread or is in need of that bread which satisfies.
Choose what the Lord is calling you to sacrifice in order to open your heart for deeper intimacy with him. Then choose someone to offer that sacrifice for, hoping that God will bring good news into that person’s life.
-Mark Rose, Campus Ministry Consultant

Resolution Three: ALMSGIVING

Share a scriptural encouragement with someone each day
Sharing a Scripture passage with someone (even a close friend) can seem intimidating because we often think no one wants to hear. But what I often forget is that the Scriptures are the Word of God, Jesus himself, and is Good News. Who turns down good news? Words of encouragement are always welcome, right? Yes! Especially in this day and age that is full of such negativity.
So, let’s not let the lie of intimidation keep us from sharing the Good News with others. Everyone longs to be encouraged! Consider it a form of almsgiving to a world in desperate need of Good News!
When I lack the words to encourage a friend I can rely on Scripture to speak for me; to use the Word of God as my words. It can be as simple as paraphrasing Luke 12:30-31 for someone who is anxious; “Your Father knows that you [have needs]. So instead seek his kingdom and these other things will be given you.”
The key for me is finding the Good News each day on my own first (by praying through the Scriptures) so that I have something to share. For “you can’t give what you don’t have!”
-Cody LeClaire, Campus Ministry Operations

Resolution Four: CONVERSATION

Go out of your comfort zone to start a conversation with someone new every day
One of the best years of my college experience was my sophomore year. I committed to a year-long program of growing deeper as a disciple, and part of this commitment was giving my campus minister and friends permission to pester me to meet new people. I have to admit, I hated it at first. I’d be at the gym with a group from campus ministry and my campus minister would come up behind me and whisper, “Ehem, Julie! Go talk to THAT girl!” I also committed to 2 hours a week of intentionally spending time with and talking with new people. At the end of this year, I admitted to my campus minister that it was the hardest thing I had ever done, but also the greatest gift anyone had ever given me. Why? I was given new eyes to see people who are alone, new, uncomfortable, and looking for someone else to reach out to them. 
This Lent, consider taking this challenge. Whether it’s during your daily bus commute, eating in the dining hall/break room, attending a ministry event, while at work, or in class, commit to reaching out to someone you don’t know everyday. I promise you, it may be one of the hardest things you’ve had to do, but it will be one of the greatest gifts you’ve ever received.
-Julie Rose, Campus Ministry Associate

Resolution Five: INVITATION

Invite 3-5 People into your small group
Why are there over two billion Christians in the world today? Was it because Jesus preached to the masses of people?
No. In fact, preaching to the masses is actually what got him killed! It was because he invested his time into a small group of individuals
Just as Jesus reached individuals in small groups 2,000 years ago, he longs to reach more people through encounters with his word and with community- in small groups!
Invite friends from your daily life to your small group.
Many non-believers will never step foot inside your church. What better place than your non-threatening small group that meets in a dorm, apartment, or house!
-Austin Franke, Campus Ministry Associate and Creative Director of Media