Why I Hang Out With Outcasts
[Editor’s Note: On April 23, 2016, we hosted a Christ Talks event in State College, PA, where 10 speakers shared their insights on the person of Christ from their unique perspectives. In her Christ Talk, Kendra Gettig shares why she hangs out with “outcasts” and introduces some of them to us. You can watch the video or read the blog, which is based on the video of her Christ Talk.]
I serve as the local outreach director for my church. I spend my days with outcasts—people who are often overlooked and forgotten. I’m convinced that Jesus’ heart breaks for these people—that he loves them, knows them, has good plans for them, and desperately wants them to have a relationship with him.
I do this work because years ago, Jesus met me in my loneliness. Jesus met me in my isolation. Jesus met me in my despair. Jesus met me in my emptiness. Jesus met me in my shame. He filled me. He loved me. He was present. He gave me hope. He gave me life. He told me I was good enough, that I didn’t have to strive any more. I believed him.
I believe that Christ lives in us and I believe that Christ is the hope of the world. The gospel is good news for me everyday. But the gospel is good news for the world! The gospel is good news for the “outcasts” that I get to spend time with. They’ve become my friends.
When I examine the life of Jesus in Scripture, I’m drawn to the fact that Jesus spent his time with people in the margins—tax collectors, children, lepers, and sinners.
Just like I wasn’t beyond the reach of Jesus, nobody is. I was and am worth it. Jesus loved me so much that he would die for me. His gospel is good news for the world!
Who are the lepers, the untouchable people, in our society? Maybe people with mental illness? Or inmates? Or drunk college students? Or our Muslim neighbors?
I’d love to tell you about some of my friends.
My friend Nate is in jail. He’s made a series of bad choices and will spend the next several months there. He grew up in and out of foster care and group homes. He bounced from person to person and rarely had a place to call home or people to call family. He’s desperately searching for love—to be cared about.
Jesus says that Nate is worth it. The gospel is for him too. We’re praying that Jesus becomes Nate’s brother and that God becomes his Father.
My friend Betty is in her upper sixties, living alone in a local apartment. She was married for a long time but due to abuse is currently separated. She grew up in an abusive home, with an alcoholic father. Betty is paralyzed by fear—she goes months without leaving her home. She has few relational connections and pushes most of them away.
I talked with her today and she told me that she feels hopeless and alone, and that God is disappointed in her. I reminded her that God is with her—that she’s not alone. And I reminded her that the Father’s love for her is unconditional—that there is nothing we can do to make him love us less or more.
Jesus says that Betty is worth it. The gospel is for her too. We’re praying that Jesus becomes Betty’s Prince of Peace.
My Friend Who’s Worth It
I have another friend who had an abortion as a teenager 10 years ago. Her abortion initially brought her to Christ, but she has since walked away from him. How could God love her after she took the life of her child? She believes that God will never love her or forgive her. Yet she cries each time we talk about Christ.
Jesus says that my friend is worth it. The gospel is for her too. We’re praying that she experiences the transforming forgiveness of Christ.
My friend Samantha is HIV positive. She was diagnosed 18 years ago. She’s regularly ill and doesn’t have the energy to clean her home, so we’ve helped her a few times. She fears death. She believes that people are scared of her and don’t want to spend time with her. She’s mad at God. How could he let this happen to her?
Jesus thinks that Samantha is worth it. The gospel is for her too. We’re praying that Jesus becomes Samantha’s hope.
I’m so thankful for God’s faithful pursuit of me. Even when I was far way, he was pursuing me. And I’m thankful that God is faithfully pursuing my friend in jail, my older and lonely friend, my friend who had an abortion, and my friend with HIV. He bought them back too. And he desperately wants a relationship with them.
Psalm 25:3 says, “no one who hopes in Christ will ever be put to shame.”
Christ is the hope of the world!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kendra Gettig
Kendra Gettig is the Local Outreach Director for Calvary Church, which she calls her “dream job.” She loves meeting new people and helping folks get connected. Kendra studied Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State.