“The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood” – John 1:14a, The Message
A Nazarene in Germany posted a challenge on Twitter, and as a result, over 180 homeless people were fed in 11 countries around the world in a day. In addition to that, work was started that is continuing past that day. This is a testimony to the power of social media, but it is also a testimony to the power of the God who can take something like Twitter or Facebook and use it to transform lives in the real world.
What happened through social media recently is an example of this continuing incarnational movement of God. Here’s what happened:
I had this sudden thought, “What if we used the power of social media to reach around the world?” I posted a tweet with the challenge that I believed if we all got together we could feed 100 homeless people around the world all in one day.
Photo credit: Karen Lewis
I didn’t know if anybody would respond, but people responded immediately. Most of them were complete strangers, but they were inspired by this challenge: “If each of us gave just one meal, we could reach many together!” Quickly people started signing up to give a meal to a homeless person on that day. Many signed up to give one meal and others signed up to give more than one.
On 30 September 30, 2017, over 180 meals were given to homeless people in the USA, Germany, Tanzania, France, Kenya, Mexico, Canada, Hungary, the UK, Serbia and Australia.
And it didn’t stop there. Some were challenged to keep going in various ways.
We called this project #LongerTables. Here are just a few snapshots:
Belgrade, Serbia – A homeless lady was approached by a stranger who surprised her with food. She had no idea that she was part of something bigger, but for that one lady this one meal was big enough to make a difference.
San Antonio, Texas – A man decided to give 10 meals. He thought he had the day off, but he got called into work unexpectedly, so he went out with 5 meals before work and decided to give out the other 5 after work. While working, he told 3 co-workers what was happening, and they got excited. It was too late for them to participate that day, but they said they wanted him to do it again another day and they would join him. They ended up deciding to make it a monthly event. Now the four of them will go out once a month together to provide 40 or more meals to the people who don’t have a home. One man read a tweet, and now the Word of God is moving into the neighborhood through a new movement of love.
Mwanza, Tanzania – A Tanzanian Nazarene decided he wanted to be a part of this. He and his wife put together some really nice meals and gave them to 18 hungry people. Those people had no idea they were connected to other hungry people in Texas, but they did know they were loved and their stomachs were filled!
Ohio – A chef responded to the challenge. He lovingly prepared meals and gave them and invited homeless people into the market where he works for a really nice meal!
London – A man met a homeless man who sleeps beside the road on the route he walks to work every day. He decided that one meal wasn’t enough. He is now taking him breakfast every day.
Kiatine, Kenya – The #LongerTables movement moved into a rural community in Kenya through another African Nazarene who saw the challenge through social media.
Dusseldorf, Germany – A young lady gave two warm meals to homeless people there. She shares her story:
“Today's mission accomplished and two homeless people were served warm dinners. An old Polish man whose German was as good as mine taught me how to say thank you in Polish. He broke my heart telling me he has no family and his 3 sons were killed in Poland. I asked if they were killed in war; he said “Ja,” but I'm not sure he understood my question. The second was a young man; his German sounded perfect to me but he didn't want to speak much, but he was polite and thankful.”
West Coast, USA – Another caring woman decided to do more than give out a meal. In response to the #LongerTables challenge, she set up a slush fund for low income children at a local middle school who can’t always afford breakfast or lunch.
And these are just a few of the stories, a few snapshots of ways in which the Word put on flesh and blood and moved into neighborhoods around the world one day.
Social media is a powerful tool. It can be used to moan and complain. It can be used to debate and argue. It can be used to post pictures of lunch. It can be used to bully people. It can be used to keep in touch with friends and to make new friends.
Social media can be used for good or for bad.
What are some more imaginative ways it can be used for the Kingdom of God? It’s been a powerful tool in the hands of politicians. Why can’t it be used as a powerful incarnational tool for God?
Many of the people who gave out meals are probably not Christians, but something within them responded to the challenge to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They may not all be Christ-followers, but they all shared in a Jesus moment. And who knows where that encounter with Jesus on the streets may lead next!
Through this encounter of social media with the real world, not only have many homeless people been fed and some new movements started, a dialogue has been opened up with many people around the world who were inspired by this movement and by their desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. A chance exists to keep interacting with them, pursue future projects and to talk about their own deeper needs as well. A chance exists to talk about the Christ who is in the middle of it all, the one who inspires it all, the one who is enfleshed within acts of love around the world.
Jesus keeps on moving into the neighborhood, and he is not deterred by the continually changing world. He even knows how to use a tweet.
-- Chris Lewis is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene and has worked as an evangelist, church planter and in international missions most of his life. He currently lives with his wife, Karen, in Germany.