A lot of Christians make a distinction between service and evangelism. Service is ministering to the physical needs of people, whereas evangelism is ministering to the spiritual needs of people. That is spreading Jesus’ message to those who do not know God and are in need of His forgiveness.
Many Christians concentrate on one of the two and exclude the other. But that kind of behavior is not Biblical. Jesus, whose life is the example we should try to live by, did both. He ministered to the physical needs through the healing and feeding the poor. He also ministered to their spiritual needs. Preaching and teaching to anyone that he came in contact with. Furthermore He didn’t make any kind of distinction between the two in his earthly ministry.
Christians are commanded to minister to both the physical and the spiritual needs of people who are lacking.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” John 20:21
The modern church seems to have forgotten this. Current church leaders and pastors often preach and push evangelism, but rarely ever preach or put resources towards dealing with the physical needs of people. And when they do, they are usually only directed towards helping fellow Christians.
But that isn’t the way it is meant to be. Spiritual and physical assistance should go hand in hand. People need spiritual healing and redemption, but they also need to eat, and they need a place to sleep, and clothes to wear.
It is a sad thing that most of the aid organizations out there are mostly secular. Secular organizations are simply incapable of dealing with spiritual needs. And most missions organizations are only interested or capable of dealing with spiritual needs. People who are in desperate need of both physical and spiritual assistance can only get one or the other.
Secular organizations are only able to minister to one of the needs of the world. But the Church and Christians are in a unique position to be able to minister to both. Sadly we don’t take advantage of our ability. We squander our position and disobey the commandments by ignoring some needs in favor of others.