* Take prayer walks. Go to poor neighborhoods and walk around while praying for the people who live there.

* Build a strong sense of community. Work with poor people and others who are serving them to combine your talents and skills in an effective synergy. Let your common commitments, shared values, and collective purpose produce a sense of community that leads to close friendships. Learn from and depend on each other.

* Take time out for contemplation. Regularly break away from the stress and pressures you’re facing to shift your focus away from doing and toward just being. Schedule some time to think and pray in solitude and silence, to renew your soul. Observe the Sabbath day each week, meditate, fast, and take retreats when you can.

* Learn from suffering. Stand with the poor in the midst of their suffering, and be willing to listen to and support them as they deal with it. Don’t minimize the suffering you see them experience. Help them discover the lessons their suffering can teach them when they respond to it by pursuing God more. Allow your own suffering to drive you closer to God.

* Love unconditionally. Understand that some poor people will not be nice, and not all will appear worthy, deserving, or respectful – yet God calls you to love them anyway. Remember that Jesus stopped for poor people in need, no matter how unpleasant they seemed. Ask God to help you reach out to all poor people He puts in your path. Invite God to let His unconditional love for them to flow through you into their lives.

Adapted from Sub-Merge: Living Deep in a Shallow World: Service, Justice, and Contemplation Among the World’s Poor, copyright 2006 by John B. Hayes.  Published by Regal Books, Ventura, Ca., www.regalbooks.com.

John B. Hayes has had a lifelong interest in the needs of the poor. He and his wife Deanna are general directors of InnerCHANGE, a mission order that works among the poor in five countries sharing the good news in words and works through personal relationships. In the summer of 1984, he relocated his family to the poorest, most overcrowded street in Southern California at the time. He was determined to launch a holistic ministry that establishes its personnel in the inner city to minister inside-out. The Hayes and their two daughters, Savannah and Alexandra, later moved to the inner city of San Francisco and now live in one of the poorest neighborhoods in London, England. John graduated from Princeton and received his Masters in International Relations from Yale.