March 2, 2015
We have been talking about the opportunity to join God in mission. We looked at 1 Corinthians 9:23 and Paul’s message to understand the difficulties, the struggles, and the culture of the individuals we serve so that we can begin to discern how God might be at work around us. Over the next few months, we will be sharing the stories of how our students and others in our community are, in very distinct ways, serving others for the sake of the gospel.
Sioux Falls Seminary Master of Divinity student Jesse Walhof actively participates in God’s mission through what he describes as a ministry of presence. As the Street Outreach Supervisor with Volunteers of America, Dakotas, he spends many of his days, nights, and weekends listening to the stories and needs of homeless and at-risk individuals in Sioux Falls.
Walking alongside the individuals he serves, Jesse builds relationships in particular with many homeless youth in our community. A group that is often under served. Through his presence and assistance, Jesse has been able to establish trust with many and, as a result, get them the help they need—housing assistance, employment, mental health counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, and much more.
“Through those relationships, people start to question why we do what we do. It is then that we can share with them the news of Christ, and we serve them as Christ serves,” said Jesse. “In this way, the kingdom is built.”
Jesse has seen God at work in many ways as he walks the streets of Sioux Falls. He finds amazement in seeing trust established with individuals who don’t trust anyone else and joy in finding families permanent housing. But he sees God at work the most when he takes the time to talk with those in need. Through his conversations, Jesse experiences the brokenness that people have, and he is able to talk with them about their issues and the freedom that comes in Christ and from living a Christian life.
“To put it simply, the world is a broken place, and the people in it are broken,” said Jesse. “As Christians, it is our duty and our joy to be able to serve others because he first served us. It is not enough to accept the brokenness, but we are called to change it for him.”
Jesse, through his ministry of presence and ability to think sympathetically about many individuals he meets and serves, is actively engaged in Christ’s redemptive work. He lives every day with the words of the Great Commission in mind: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Reflecting upon participating in Christ’s mission by serving the homeless and at-risk, Jesse said, “I do not do this work because I have to. I do not do this work because it is an obligation. I do this work because I am blessed to do this work.”
Like Jesse, many of the students at Sioux Falls Seminary are participating in God’s mission as they pursue theological education. We are honored to be able to walk alongside each of them as they seek to fulfill God’s callings in their lives.