Ministry Opportunities in Unexpected Places

With each of us uniquely created with different giftings and passions from our Creator God, it can sometimes be confusing when deciding how to best reach the lost. Some believe ministry belongs inside a church building, while others see it as praying for people on the streets. The truth is ministry doesn’t always look stereotypical. The passions God has placed in our hearts can – and should – be used when reaching others.

Joel Lunetta, serving with GEM in Italy, is passionate about health and fitness, visiting the gym almost daily and building relationships with the regulars. It wasn’t until after becoming a missionary, though, that he realized his original beliefs about sacrifice weren’t what God intended for him. He didn’t need to sacrifice what he enjoyed most in order to best serve the Lord. “After a few months on the field, I really felt in my spirit to go [to the gym], and honestly, from early on in going, doors just opened to communicate with people in a different way than in the churches.”

Ministry of any type begins with laying down oneself. “Anything you love to do can turn into an idol, and so I chose to lay down fitness and say, ‘God, I’m incredibly passionate about this, but I give it to you – what do you want me to do with it?’” As Joel felt God’s leading to continue his visits to the gym, he found that his passion created endless Kingdom opportunities. “As conversations progress in the gym community, people become curious, opening a lot of dialogue. Oftentimes, these conversations continue outside of the gym over a meal, or over at our place, and eventually form into discipleship relationships.”

In Europe, locals are generally more cautious in building relationships. First, they want to see your character and if you’re trustworthy, so they observe you. “My language was so minimal in the first few months; it was really about them watching me.” Joel remembers. Even in these early moments, though, he experienced others noticing something different about him. “As a matter of fact, the gym owner told me, ‘You’re too happy.’ To which I replied, ‘Well, why not?’ He just zeroed in on me and said, ‘Nobody’s that happy.’” Joel laughs, remarking on the perfect opportunity he had to explain his Source of happiness.

There’s often a temptation to isolate oneself while at the gym, but imagine the potential impact of using this personal time as a time for opportunity instead! Joel shares some encouragement for each of us: “Be ready to submit, because there are conversations you can have, and impacts you can have while you’re there.  Be ready to plant those seeds,” Joel comments. “And be bold! It’s a great way to share faith and evangelize in a way that you will have an impact. You can street preach all day, but if you’re not gifted in preaching and if you don’t know the people around you, you might not get anywhere. But if you have a missional community, a place you already have accolades, a title, or just a passion, God can use that!”

Inviting God to join us in the activities we most enjoy doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, as we trust His leading and submit to Him, it can be quite simple! God knows our hearts and unique passions – He has specifically placed them inside of us. Imagine the tremendous ways they can be used for His glory when we allow Him to take delight in these passions with us!

What hobbies and interests do you have? Would you submit them to the Lord and see what He does with them, through you?