Encompass Global Worker Sam Schwartz was empowered by this thought as he moved his family from Porto, Portugal to the capital city of Lisbon five years ago. When you truly love the light of the gospel and care for the needs of people, you place the light on the tallest stand you can find.
For Sam, that stand was Serve the City Lisbon.
Serve the City began in Belgium in 2005 as a single week of serving, initiated by a local church. The event was the first of many weekly and monthly neighborhood-based service projects. Friends from other cities heard about the vision and adopted it as their own. Now Serve the City International is in 100 cities around the world, one of which is Lisbon, Portugal.
Before moving to the capital to work for Serve the City Lisbon, Sam was beginning to feel a disconnect between local churches and the needs of society. He was determined to find a platform that could engage the community with Jesus alongside doing good for those who lived there. He believed God was calling him specifically to mobilize the church in meeting the needs of the marginalized.
All along the way, Charis Alliance National Ministry Partner Alfredo Abreu mentored Sam challenging him to act upon his convictions. Alfredo has been a huge blessing for Sam’s development and together they make a great Encompass/Charis team. Being one of the Directors and Board members of Serve the City, Alfredo has helped shape the direction of Serve the City in Portugal.
In Lisbon, Serve the City initially organized one bi-weekly project called Community Dinners. At these gatherings, volunteers share a meal with the marginalized of the city. Not only are the hungry fed, but they are honored and loved in fellowship. Since that beginning, more year-round projects have emerged including community life-skill workshops, youth mentoring, and visits to the elderly. Serve the City Lisbon has now become Serve the City Portugal as cities such as Porto and Coimbra have caught the vision.
The motto of Serve the City International is “Inspired by Christ, Open to All”.
When several people from outside the Church were ready to join the vision, the non-profit decided to become an inclusive group. By doing this, they created a place to carry out what Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
There could be a million different reasons why people participate in Serve the City International projects around the world. But for Sam, who now serves as the Financial Director, it’s simply because he loves God and cares for people. Through Serve the City Lisbon, he’s been able to proclaim Christ through his tangible love for the less fortunate. His service is a testimony to unbelievers working alongside him as well as to those he is serving. Through this unique platform, God continues to develop disciples.
Serve the City is a creative stage where a passion for God and a desire to fill the needs of people beautifully come together to engage the community and fulfill the Great Commission. The lamp is lit, and the light of the gospel is displayed for all to see.