Overlooked Ministries follows example of Christ, helps ‘see the unseen’

Members of Overlooked Ministries and Younglife Capernaum attend a Main Event Hangout sponsored by donors. Photo courtesy of Overlooked Ministries

By Abigail Gan | Reporter

When Sutton, Mass., sophomore John Esler and Conroe sophomore Garrett Hallbauer started Overlooked Ministries, they had one goal in mind: see the unseen.

“As Christians, we follow a man who not only saw these types of individuals but centered his life around serving them,” the organization’s website reads. “Through short interactions leading to deeper relationships, we will share with the overlooked in society that they are seen and fully loved, and as the body of Christ, we all serve a vital role even when the world says otherwise.”

Esler and Hallbauer met when they were in the same major program their first semester of college. They are now in the same fraternity and will be roommates next year.

Hallbauer said he has participated in numerous homeless ministries in the past, while Esler is involved in Young Life Ministries for special needs students and adults.

“Through that, our heart has been drawn toward people groups that tend to be overlooked,” Hallbauer said.

Hallbauer said one night, when he and Esler were studying late at the business school, they saw a group of custodians starting their shifts, which go from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“We were just blown away by the dedication they have to our school, despite the recognition that they get,” Hallbauer said. “That’s how the ministry was formed. We wanted to see if there was a way that we could just encourage them … Colossians 3:23 calls us to work heartily as for the Lord and not for men. That’s truly what these workers do, because no one sees what they do, and they do it anyway.”

Esler said the first thing Overlooked Ministries did was pass out 25 gift cards to janitorial staff at Baylor around Christmastime.

“[It] really just shows as students, we see all the work that is done — and even greater, the Lord sees it and rewards it,” Esler said. “Scripture tells us, what’s done in secret, the Father will reward people for that. … It’s a shift that isn’t seen in public, but still the work is so valuable and so appreciated by students.”

Esler said Overlooked Ministries also held a staff appreciation banquet with over 30 guests in February. He said one of the greatest ways to serve someone is to show them hospitality and serve them a meal.

“I’d imagine their recognition isn’t often there, but to just share how kindly the Lord looks upon people who serve,” Esler said. “Their careers are truly just dedicated to service, and they do it so well.”

Esler said with people’s donations and generosity, the organization has been able to gather resources.

“We have been blessed to receive a lot of resources, almost more than we really have known what to do with at some points,” Hallbauer said. “The cool thing is we kind of have a broad arm approach where there are really a lot of different overlooked avenues we could take with this. I mean, we talked about doing teachers or doing veterans, like honoring just groups that are overlooked.”

Esler said nothing particularly extraordinary is happening at Overlooked Ministries; it is just focused on following God’s lead.

“Truly, we just saw a need in the community and prayed and earnestly sought out what the Lord would have us do in this situation,” Esler said. “And it’s really cool to see how walking in faithfulness — He often provides in such cool opportunities.”

Hallbauer said he hopes Overlooked Ministries encourages people to look around themselves with an attitude of service.

“No matter what stage of life you’re in, it’s really important to look to your right and left, instead of being tunnel-focused on your bigger goals,” Hallbauer said. “That’s what we want for people to take away from this group, is that they have an ability and an obligation as believers to serve and love the least of these.”