“Actually, we really need bigger size diapers,” the lady at the crisis pregnancy center told me. “A lot of people don’t realize this, but hospitals will send new parents home with the small diapers, and babies grow so fast they’re only in the small sizes for a short time. Mom’s come in and want to trade for bigger diapers and a lot of times, we don’t have any.”
“Is there anything else besides diapers?” I asked.
“Brand new car seats. It’s hard to use old ones because we can’t monitor recalls and we don’t know if they’ve been in car accidents. Pack n plays would be good too. We have plenty cute clothes because people like to shop for those, and women from a nearby assisted living place knit all our blankets for us. We have been running out of winter clothes sometimes, though.”
Asking questions is not something that comes naturally to me. If possible, I prefer to prepare ahead of time by doing research and showing up equipped to sound knowledgeable. A lot of times, that’s a good thing. It can also be a pride problem. Asking questions is an essential aspect of communicating, learning, and forming connections with other people.
When we try to assist people in ministry, questions are so important. People on the front line know the needs better than anyone else, and it isn’t helpful to them when the rest of us assume we know how to help. Several ministries I know of struggle with easily collecting the “fun” resources they need while waiting months for someone to provide more mundane items. People would rather buy baby clothes than diapers. It’s more fun to purchase craft supplies than oatmeal. Sometimes we forget that we’re making donations in order to fill a need for someone else, not entertain ourselves. Asking questions can alleviate that tendency.
When I asked questions at the crisis pregnancy center, I learned some stuff I didn’t know before and got good ideas for effectively choosing further donations. If I want to send something to the orphans I support in India, it helps to message their foster mom ahead of time to find out what they need most from their Amazon wish list.
Asking questions also shows the front line works that you care. Most people in ministry don’t enjoy constantly asking people for things. They don’t want to feel like a burden. Asking them what they need tells them that you’re behind them, thinking of them and caring for their needs and the needs of the people they’re ministering to.
But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. —Hebrews 13:16
My dad recently pointed out to me that the word communicate means both talking and sharing resources. The Greek word that translates “communicate” means partnership, participation, benefaction.
Asking questions, learning how to help, and then using your resources to participate in the work combine to equal effective communication.