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Does Your Church Need Transformation? Here's How to Answer Jesus' Call to Love 'The Least of These'

Does Your Church Need Transformation? Here's How to Answer Jesus' Call to Love 'The Least of These'

As followers of Christ, we are called to love God and love our neighbor regardless of their ethnicity, cultural background, or social status. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells His disciples that only those who loved, welcomed, and cared for “the least of these” will be blessed and granted eternal life in His Father’s kingdom.

To answer Jesus’ call, World Vision created the Matthew 25 Challenge — a week-long discipleship tool designed to help families and churches live out Matthew 25 in real, practical ways. The Matthew 25 Challenge encourages participants to step out of their comfort zones and engage in Jesus’ love for the hungry and oppressed, the sick and imprisoned, and the poor and widowed.

“I believe this challenge has the potential truly to transform our faith,” says Steve Greene, Lead Pastor at The Point. “It has the potential to transform your worldview and your understanding of God’s love for us and God’s love for the world.”

Throughout the week, participants take part in various challenges which help them understand the plight of many around the world. Each day,  they watch an impactful video of child living in poverty. They’re then encouraged to participate in exercises like wearing the same clothes from the day before or sleeping on the floor for one night to better empathize with children around the world who don’t have beds.

“As a mother of four, it was amazing to witness my own children actively participate in the Challenges,” says Jenny Jones of Real Hope Community, Richmond, TX. “On the night we were to sleep on the floor, I came across my son bringing his blanket and pillow downstairs. I asked him what he was doing, thinking we were going to sleep together in the carpeted game room upstairs. He looked at me and said, “In the videos, I didn’t see any of those kids being able to sleep on carpet.” I thought, Now you decide to listen to the Holy Spirit!”

“It really was a blessing to watch my son begin to lead us on what it means to follow Jesus,” she adds. “I truly love this challenge, it was an unimaginable experience.”

Following the week-long interactive experience, participants are encouraged to pray for those who are hungry, thirsty, without clothes, sick, and imprisoned. The weekend ends with a call to action, and if they choose, participants can sign up to sponsor a child in need from around the world.

“There’s no question it engages the entire congregation in a way like we never have before around missions,” says Pastor Greene. “For them to be able to see and hear stories and be able to have such practical application with the daily challenges, I would say there’s never been a week like it in the church.”

Pastors whose churches have participated in the Matthew 25 Challenge say the experience not only transformed their church in incredible ways, but allowed for deeper and more vulnerable conversation about global poverty.

“For me, it’s personal,” says Juampa Martinez, pastor of Church on the Rock in Wasilla AK. “I was born and raised in Colombia, where we are no stranger to poverty. My sister once took me along to complete her service project in the slums of Bogotá, where I saw unimaginable poverty. Right in the middle of it was World Vision, working to change lives. Their dedication inspired me, and once I became a pastor, I didn’t hesitate to find opportunities for my church to engage.”

“I jumped at the opportunity to bring the Matthew 25 Challenge to my church,” he continues. “It gave my congregation an idea of what poverty looks like, to those we have been fortunate enough to never have experienced anything close to it. It was a practical and engaging way for our church to address and care for the global poor, and brought our congregation closer together. All I can tell you is this—give it a try. You’ll be able to give something tangible for your church to engage in the words of Jesus.”

World Vision also supplies pastors, parents, and teachers with the resources needed to facilitate this experience, from study guides and activities to text messages with talking and prayer points for families.

Recalls parent Mark Gulath: “We had great discussions every evening at dinner, and our conversations revolved around real world things that I believe made our children more aware of different perspectives and allowed them to really see how fortunate and blessed we are.”

Click here to learn more about the Matthew 15 Challenge and to help you and your family answer Jesus’ call to care for the “least of these.” Sign up today, and you’ll get one email a day over the next week with your daily challenge, impactful stories, and ways to pray and talk about Matthew 25 with your family. You can also sign up to receive daily texts by texting M25 to 44888.

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