Practical Christianity Changes A Community – Martin Beckett

Ben Farley | vision.org.au
Monday, February 5th, 2018

A church-bred charity serving the disadvantaged

“Sometimes taking a sandwich to a school kid can be that light and open up so many doors for people to come and ask the question, ‘What is it about you as a church that makes you different?”

“We started a food program on the streets of Mt Druitt taking 100 meals a week to serve the disadvantaged… that now caters to an estimated 18-thousand people. That’s massive!”

Martin Beckett is the CEO of Christ Mission Possible in the western suburbs of Sydney.

That’s Kingswood, Penrith and Mt Druitt at the foot of the Blue Mountains and Martin’s also the senior pastor at the Rock Community Centre where Christ Mission Possible had its beginnings.

The focus then was to take resources overseas to villages in Papua New Guinea.

An expression of love to our community

“A number of years after that we started a food program on the streets of Mt Druitt taking 100 meals a week to serve the disadvantaged there,” Martin recalled.

The growth has accelerated since those early days to meet the need and Martin has taken on the responsibility to manage the charity.

“It’s become this expression of love to our community.” An expression that now caters to an estimated 18-thousand people. “Massive and scary at the same time.”

“I know when I’m talking with other communities and other churches around Australia who love what we do and want to do it, they say ‘we’re not a big church or we’re only a small community’ well we’re not a big church either. Back then we were only a church of 80 people.”

“We’re now 200 maximum. We’re not a massive church but we’ve definitely had this massive impact, so you don’t have to be the biggest church to have a big impact,”

“Your town might be ten or twenty people a week and changing their lives.”

‘Brown Paper Bag’

Martin said they were providing food for 100 people a week just nine years ago. Now it’s 18-thousand people a week through its food programs alone.

“This includes taking lunches into schools through an initiative called ‘Brown Paper Bag’. That’s 2000 lunches a week. A year earlier it was just 60 lunches.” Martin said.

The growth spurt followed partnerships with the schools and principals using their resources as well as Christ Mission Possible. But it’s not just about the churches.

“It’s partnering with your community. For us it’s been a great vehicle to actually connect the church with non-churched and non-faith based organisations that otherwise wouldn’t be working with the church.”

The challenge for some churches when confronted by the Rock Community Centre’s model is the realisation of how inward looking they’ve become.

This predicament is not lost on Martin Beckett who said it’s not a criticism.

It’s about what we can give

“It’s just an observation, We in the church have been very inward and I think the best way to know what’s going on in your community is to turn your eyes outward.”

“Look outside the walls of the church. Look outside the Sunday service and talk and engage with your community. School principals are great people to connect with.” Martin also included other public figures such as local MPs, politicians and councillors.

“They’re great people for the church to get to know. Not with an agenda of what can we get from you but what can we give.”

“As you start talking to these people they being to tell you, ‘Hey did you notice the problems down on such and such street, have you noticed the problems in this unit block.”

Martin’s response – “Well how about we visit or connect and take a pack of Tim Tams, whatever. “All of a sudden you’re going with what we’ve been given which is the answer.”

“We know that Jesus is the answer but we get to actually take that into a troubled community,” Martin outlined saying that’s the best way we can connect.

A whole generation unchurched

In a time when the church’s reputation has been the subject of much scrutiny and negativity, what churches and charities such as Martin’s has done is shift the focus onto a more positive footing.

“I think we live in a time and an era in the Western culture and in Australia where we assume people know the Gospel and know Jesus and they know about God but really they don’t,” Martin confessed.

“We have a whole generation of people who have been unchurched for the last two to three decades.”

“We’ve seen a decline in church attendance so we have this mission field out there of people who have never attended church. What we get to do is go to them with this outrageous love – we’re actually this loving supportive arm in the community that bring the answers to the problems.”

But Martin’s comeback was to say it’s the church that’s been the problem more than the answer.

Jesus has this outrageous love

“It’s really refreshing when the church gets outside of its four walls and looks outside Monday to Saturday and says, ‘How can I be the light in a community?’ Sometimes taking a sandwich to a school kid can be that light ,an opening for so many doors for people to come and ask the question, ‘What is it about you as a church that makes you different?”

This is not a new revelation for Martin. He’ll tell you this is absolutely what the Scriptures were founded upon.

“I believe Jesus would be equally as comfortable sitting with the local prostitute and having a conversation leading her into a different transformed life just as he would the local millionaire, politician or Jewish leader.”

“He had this outrageous love that could calm a crowd and bring people to a point of repentance without the criticism and judgement that we tend to go towards today.”

So, you want to hit the streets and feed the homeless and disadvantaged? Here’s Martin’s advice.

“The first step is always the hardest. It may be just crossing the street to talk to a neighbour whom you know is in need.”

The Christian who actually cares

Martin also corrected any historically mistaken thinking for those who still say it’s the church leaders job to help those in need.

“It’s actually the pastors equipping the saints to do the ministry. It might be taking some sandwiches it might be taking a meal. It may be sitting down with someone and having a chat especially in our rural communities with farmers who are desperately in need of someone to talk to.”

“People will come to know you as that church or that Christian who actually cares. Meeting the little needs, it doesn’t have to be big.”

Finally Martin returns to the place where it all started – The Rock Community Centre that gave birth to the charity Christ Mission Possible.

“We never had a dream of growing big. We wanted to meet the need that was right in front of us. And as you become trustworthy with the little things, if there’s a bigger need in your community God can then trust you and will equip you and enable you to do the bigger things.”

 

Footnote

About CMP

Making the impossible possible

Christ Mission Possible is a local charity that provides food and accommodation solutions to the needy and those who are most vulnerable.

Making the impossible Possible is an initiative to transform lives through the power of Jesus Christ. We show outrageous love to those in need and support the most vulnerable in critical times of homelessness, abuse, addiction, hunger and crisis.

Christ Mission Possible (CMP) is unique in its proclamation of the gospel to transform lives. Through tangible assistance we provide Housing Solutions and Food Solutions primarily to those experiencing Homelessness and those at risk of homelessness.

In caring for our community, we harvest $15,000,000 of food each year, this is food that would otherwise be discarded, we believe that good food should not go to waste but should be redirected to those in our communities that require it the most.

For further information go to: http://cmp.org.au

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