If my pickup truck could talk, it would tell you about the tons of tools and building materials and volunteers it has carried as the Holy Spirit worked through us to show God’s love in powerful, life-improving ways. We’re very human, yet we’ve been called “angels” so often that the ministry is called the Angel Team.
I never imagined that doing home repairs could be a soul-winning ministry. After all, it didn’t involve preaching evangelistic sermons, passing out literature, and giving Bible studies. Decades of failure forced me to recognize that God had not gifted me to minister for Him using these methods. Instead, He wanted me to share His amazing, transforming love by doing good deeds that improved lives. In the 13 years since God started the Angel Team ministry at the Grace Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist Church in Madison, Alabama, I have seen more people drawn to Him than through all my previous evangelistic efforts.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus instructed us to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). On the night before He was arrested, Jesus spoke it as a commandment, a divine instruction requiring our obedience as surely as any of those written by the finger of God on tables of stone: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
How do you show someone that you love them? By doing good things for them. Most of Jesus’ ministry was spent doing good works, and He exhorted His disciples to continue that ministry when He told them, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15).
The first result of every miracle Jesus performed was an improvement in the recipient’s life. How many ways can we improve someone’s life? The list is endless. For Angel Team volunteers it can be as simple as replacing lightbulbs for a senior citizen who can no longer climb a ladder; repainting a room; or doing basic home repairs. We’ve fixed plumbing leaks, replaced oven heating elements, trimmed trees, mowed yards, helped people move, and replaced worn-out light switches and outlets. A simple thing such as replacing a leaking toilet flush valve, a task that takes 15 minutes and costs a few dollars, can mean someone living on a fixed income can pay for life-saving medicine instead of having to pay a high utility bill.
I don’t have to go looking for projects, because God sends them to me. Word of Teresa’s need came at a church meeting where a man who worked with her passed me a note with her name and phone number on it and asked me to call her. I did and learned that Teresa’s first concern was the fallen trees still lying across her yard after a severe storm several years earlier. So our first two visits involved using chain saws to clear her backyard. We told her that we did things like that without charging because we wanted to pass along the love of God that we ourselves had experienced.
“You’re angels to me,” Teresa told us as we packed up to leave.
Later visits to her home were to replace part of her kitchen floor that had been rotted out by a long-term water leak. It looked like there was a ditch across the center of the room, and except for multiple layers of flooring, putting a foot in that area would send you into the crawl space below. After finishing the repair, I told her she could even jump up and down on the floor because it was strong. The next afternoon I learned that she had been showing coworkers pictures of the repair and telling them that she and her daughter had joyously danced on it.
A few weeks later we returned to lay new flooring. Teresa and her daughter had to leave to attend a Christmas party before we were finished, so I used my phone to send her a photo. A minute later a note came back: “You’re making me cry in front of my friends.”
When a help request comes, I meet the client and evaluate the situation before sending an e-mail to the church, giving the details. Anyone can help. I typically have no idea who’s coming or how many workers we’ll have. Yet I go, because I’ve learned to depend on God to send enough people—and the right people. Many times a person tells me they felt God impressing them to come to help. Often a first-timer, or someone who hasn’t helped in a while, is the person with the life experience the homeowner can identify with, and they share with our new friend how God has worked in their life.
Visit our church and ask just about anyone you meet about the Angel Team, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear a story about how they’ve been blessed by helping others, or how they themselves have been helped. The ministry has strengthened the church by building bonds of friendship and love. Families have even joined the church because of the Angel Team.
Paul instructed Timothy to teach believers “to be rich in good deeds” (1 Tim. 6:18); and he would have us “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). Peter admonished believers to “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12).
Jesus concludes the matter with His declaration that those who die in the Lord “will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them” (Rev. 14:13).
What ministry of good works does God want you to do to share His great love? Ask Him! It’s your chance to discover an empowered relationship with the Holy Spirit. God will surprise you with the ministry He wants you to do.
William Noel is a writer, a dedicated do-it-yourselfer, and leader of the Angel Team ministry at Grace Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist Church in Madison, Alabama.