the weblog of Alan Knox

Guest Post: How does the church respond to poverty? (from someone who’s living it)

Posted by on Apr 4, 2011 in guest blogger, love, service | 44 comments

Guest Post: How does the church respond to poverty? (from someone who’s living it)

I think this is one of the most powerful posts that I’ve published in a long time. I can say that because I didn’t write it. Instead, a reader sent this to me. I asked for and received permission to post it here. Please carefully consider what she says. This is not a theoretical or academic exercise for her. She’s living it. For now, she wishes to remain anonymous. Here is her story:

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I was struck by a recent post of yours, asking how the church should respond to the fact that over ten percent of the population in Raleigh lives below the poverty line. (She’s referring to this article.) Whenever I hear this sort of discussion come up, I want to speak up, but because my family is one of those who live “poorer” than most, I fear that my comments will come off somehow as ‘self-seeking’ or of ulterior motive, or just whiny. My family has struggled financially for the past several years, and without going into all the details, I will say it has nothing to do with wasting of money or unwillingness to work. My husband spent ten of the last twelve years working 70 hours a week at three different jobs, to pay our bills, before being laid off 18 months ago. We lost our very small home to foreclosure and now rent a small older house. And we are so grateful for God’s provision. It was a devastating experience, but as in everything, He used it to draw us closer to Him. People talk of living paycheck to paycheck…. we envy those who live that way, as we are usually spending next week’s paycheck three days before it’s here… haha.

We live cheap, and we get by, but any little emergency is a huge stressor trying to figure out how to pay for it. I tell you all this, not to try to make you feel pity.. PLEASE don’t… we are so blessed… but just to say that my opinions on the church and poor come from my experience. And we are hardly the worst case. My youngest boys get angry if i use the word ‘poor’ to describe us, and proceed to point out all the stuff we own. To them, poor people don’t have television sets (even if they are ancient and don’t receive any cable). Perhaps I should say we are poor by comparison to those in America, but rich compared to most of the world.

I went to a Sunday School class for several weeks the subject of which was ‘giving’. I was excited to consider my own responsibility and privilege to give, as well as the church’s as a body. I was so deeply discouraged to see how much time we spent talking about all the reasons not to help the poor… they are living out the consequences of their own poor choices, we might ‘enable’ the receiver to stay in a bad situation, the “not work/don’t eat” verses, and most saddening to me, all the stories of people who themselves had been poorer, but pulled themselves out of it, so others should be able to as well.

When I mentioned a friend of mine, who attends a different church, who has eight children, and feeds them on 60 dollars a week, I was hoping maybe someone would see it as a chance to live out what we’d been studying. Instead, there was a shrugging of shoulders and comments that pancakes for supper weren’t so bad. And they’re not. If you aren’t having them four times a week.

I don’t know what the perfect response is to the poor. But what seems to happen is some combination of this:

1. Assume the poor can’t do simple math and immediately ask to help them with their budgets. Because it’s very fun for a man to have another man peruse his income and expenses and tell him what a bad job he’s done in both.

2. Assume the person or family has committed some error or sin that has left them in their current situation. Because nobody in America is poor unless they are either lazy, foolish, or sinful.

3. Give some Bible verses or other encouragements. God’s Word is powerful, and never a bad thing to hear. But you can’t take it to the grocery store and trade it for a meal.

4. Spend lots of time being vexed over whether giving this person or family money is the ‘best’ use for it. As if God’s whole universal budget will be upset if we accidentally give to a less ‘worthy’ cause.

5. Combine all of the above steps so that the person or family feels as much shame as possible for their ‘sin’ of having less. Spend less. Budget better. Earn more. I call it “Nike Christianity”. Just Do It.

Perhaps an unintended consequence is that it drives people to the welfare agencies the church is often so quick to condemn. The woman taking my food stamp application listened more intently and with less judgement than many Christians had.

You learn fast that people get tired of hearing how broke you are. So when you’re invited out for dinner with a group of people, you make excuses so you don’t have to admit you can’t afford it. You or your children don’t go to retreats and other activities that cost money. You feel uncomfortable on Sunday mornings when you see how worn out your child’s shoes are, and know you can’t get a new pair for awhile. It becomes a slow and subtle path to isolation.

HOWEVER. While all I’ve said above is the usual (of my experience), there have also been instances of amazing grace and Christlike giving that have blown us away. At our darkest, deepest time of need, when we had lost our home and were moving into our current two-bedroom house with five children, a dear Christian sister offered my college age daughter to live with her, rent free. Months later, a group of friends insisted we go out to dinner with them, and before we could make any excuse, they made clear the meal was “on them”. When we hesitated, they made our presence seem so desired, we couldn’t say no. That evening, I saw my husband more relaxed, and truly enjoying himself, than I had in months. Another dear brother gave us a very large sum of cash to help us get through. He and his wife said said they so loved us, and wanted to help, that it was an actual ‘relief’ for them to give to us. That was a while ago. When I recently mentioned the gift to this same friend, he looked confused, and then said, “Oh. I completely forgot about that.” He FORGOT?!?!?! Didn’t hold it over us, or didn’t judge us, didn’t shame us. Just helped, and then forgot about it. But not about us, as they are dear friends.

So if you ask me what makes the difference in the ‘typical’ (my assessment), response, and the responses that made a real difference, I would say it is a difference in how you view “the poor”. Are the poor a “problem”? Are they “potential” converts or church members? Are they a good “project” for the church? Or are they ‘people’? God-created, God-loved, died-for people. Even if some people are in bad financial straights through their own devices, is that reason to refuse them help? If someone develops lung cancer from years of smoking, do we excuse offering compassionate care because they ‘did it to themselves’? I hope not.

I hope this doesn’t come off as a rant of bitterness. In truth, I am awed at God’s provision for us. Not big, not fancy, but way more than I deserve. And I am so thankful. And I think part of the reason Christians in America are so confused in our responses to the poor is because we are so rich. We lack empathy because we just haven’t been there. I wouldn’t know how it felt to be “poor” if I weren’t “poor”.


44 Comments

  1. 4-4-2011

    Excellent post, and I’m glad that a few brave saints have recently come forward to comment on the topic. Here’s another one from my friend Cindy who has had similar experiences. I also liked this one and this one from the Deputy Headmistress, responding to Cindy’s post.

  2. 4-4-2011

    Alan,

    you’re right, this is a powerful post. As I look forward to potential opportunities to serve I pray that God will grant me a heart to see His children as He does. Not as projects or ministries but as people made in His image.

  3. 4-4-2011

    Rick,

    Thank you for the links! I hope those stories challenge many of my readers here.

    Bobby,

    “I pray that God will grant me a heart to see His children as He does.” That is very important, isn’t it?

    -Alan

  4. 4-4-2011

    It is vital. Without His grace to see as He does we are reduced to doing work for God instead of Him working through us.

  5. 4-4-2011

    Alan,

    That is a powerful post. It touches my wife and I personally. We would think ourselves well off if our pension reached the level of the poverty line in this very wealthy country.

    The attitude of people to those less well off is illustrated by a letter I read yesterday, by a fellow who was very harshly demanding that pensions, be stopped as he was tired of contributing to a non-productive population.

  6. 4-4-2011

    Bobby,

    Exactly. And, if it is God working through us, then “I can’t” or “I don’t have enough” or “I might get used” or others disappear as excuses.

    Aussie John,

    I know several people who are in that same situation (i.e., pensions), and most of them could understand what the author says in this post.

    -Alan

  7. 4-4-2011

    Great post. Very insightful. In my place of work, I constantly struggle with what she talks about…viewing those I work with as “people” and not as “projects” or “assignments.”

  8. 4-4-2011

    I think when you’ve been where this person is now (and our family most certainly has) you begin to have a different view of those who find themselves in difficult financial times.

    Frankly, most people I know who are most passionate about helping the poor are either poor themselves and/or were once homeless or spent a considerable amount of time on the receiving end of charity.

    The poor help the poor more sincerely than the rich help the poor, if for no other reason than they can understand what it feels like.

  9. 4-4-2011

    This post was very convicting for me. Dan and I are always refering to ourselves as poor. We can’t afford to buy new furniture for our finished basement. We can’t afford to go to the expensive restaurants so I can try the food I see being made on Food Network. We can’t afford to take our kids to Disney World so we settle to take a trip to NC to visit friends instead (dont worry Alan, runner up to Mickey Mouse is pretty good!). However, we can afford to keepp our fridge and pantry full of all the foods we like. We can afford to spend a redicilous amount of money on sugar and flour so I can experiment in the kitchen and we can afford to keep our house warm and gas in our van. Clearly, we are very blessed and anything but poor. I am ashamed for being so selfish and naive.

  10. 4-4-2011

    Jeremy,

    I’ve found that seeing programs instead of people is a big struggle in many aspects of church life. But, once we begin to focus on people instead of programs, events, or meetings, then everything starts to change.

    Keith,

    We have not been poor in the same sense as the lady who wrote this article. However, God has helped us to learn from those who have lived in poverty. I hope that we can continue to learn from them.

    Stephanie,

    First, a trip to NC ranks well above a trip to Disney World. Second, I agree about the conviction. The question that I ask myself (and my readers) is this: “What do we do with this conviction? Do we simply feel convicted, or do we act on it?”

    -Alan

  11. 4-4-2011

    Thank you for the post!

    I grew up rich in a Third World country. However I learned a concept of poverty very different to the one some Americans were experiencing when I came to the US in 1973.

    I remember a friend commenting: Look! Here poor people can afford to eat and they have old appliances. For that time, when the cultural differences were more noticeable for me, I could see how the concept of poverty in the American culture was very different to the one in the Third World.

    Nowadays, the Lord put me in the situation of ministering to people with the same kind of poverty I had seen in South America while growing up. Fortunately I am having the opportunity to understand what many of us are going through. Not too long ago, a church in my area couldn’t believe what I had to say about the kind of needs that we have to respond to because we are Christians.

    It looks to me that the notion of emergency is changing in our culture too fast for our brains to digest it with the same pace the change is developing. It’s true that we are human beings but it’s also true that right now to minister to the poor is priority one… or not?

  12. 4-5-2011

    Part of the issue here is the church’s incessant insistence (alliteration not intentional) on living our lives by the world’s wisdom. It seems that “money management” is a big topic in churches I have attended, and there are people whose sole ‘ministry’ is regarding finances. While I believe we are to be good stewards, I can also testify that the Lord has directed me to make decisions that flew in the face of every piece of conventional wisdom known to man. The result has been a reduced lifestyle, and learning to live on a paycheck to paycheck basis, something that previously sent me into panic mode. It has also resulted in a greater understanding of Christ as my inheritance and my supply (a la the Levites in Deuteronomy 18), and a greater walk of faith in His desire and ability to supply my needs as I walk out His directions. Finally, it has resulted, as described previously, in a renewed understanding of what it means to struggle. Although I am no stranger to lack and need, having grown up ‘poor’, in my adult years I had successfully insulated myself from feeling poor by spending even if I didn’t have it via credit cards and student loans. Later I was able to earn large sums of money because of my vocation, and I insulated myself from feeling ‘needy’ by trying to maintain large bank balances. The decisions to walk away from potential income have resulted in phenomenal growth in my faith and trust in my Lord Jesus, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    I think as the church we also forget that Jesus didn’t target the wealthy and educated. He targeted the poor of His day, He reached out to them and loved them (I also love the admonition to not see people as projects, be they poor or whatever else). I wish as the body we could put on spiritual glasses and not see education level, income level, etc., but instead just see Christ in each other. We need to remember that God has chosen the foolish to confound the wise and the weak to defeat the strong. I am glad to be counted among the weak, and I wish all of the body could walk in this idea fully (i can not claim to walk in it fully by any means). If we did then it would be natural to help our fellow brothers and sisters, as one never knows when it will be us that needs help!

  13. 4-5-2011

    Mark, I agree with you but this part of your comment is Jesus in action and so how we have to put our faith in action also: “I think as the church we also forget that Jesus didn’t target the wealthy and educated. He targeted the poor of His day, He reached out to them and loved them (I also love the admonition to not see people as projects, be they poor or whatever else)”
    Thank you for writing the words I couldn’t find!

  14. 4-5-2011

    Keith commented, “The poor help the poor more sincerely than the rich help the poor.”

    In Joshua: A Parable for Today by Joseph F. Girzone, Jesus is back on earth as a carpenter/woodcarver, and he at one point he is visiting a dirt poor family. He has carved two little animals and gives them to their young children. As he is leaving, the mom reaches onto the mostly barren shelves of her cupboard, and gives him a jar of canned jelly she made. In response he says, “Only the poor have enough to give.” My favorite quote in that book (though it never made it to the otherwise well done movie version).

  15. 4-5-2011

    Laura,

    I do believe that if we’re not caring for “the least” (which would include those who are poor), then there is a problem between us and God. Jesus will lead us to care for “the least.”

    Mark,

    Yes, that is a huge problem. One of the best things we ever did as a group of believers was to scrap the budget.

    Art,

    I’ve never heard of that. Thanks for the info!

    -Alan

  16. 4-6-2011

    Alan,

    I read through this yesterday, and was struck by a psalm I read today in light of it. It opens, “Blessed are those who look to (or, consider) the poor (or, weak or needy)” (41:2). One of the parts of the post that hit me the most was when the author wrote about attending a Sunday school class where the attendees quoted all kinds of verses dealing with “the poor got what was coming to them” (I’m guessing quoting some Proverbs?).

    While the principle is perhaps true in many cases, what I find most appalling is the utter neglect of the rich biblical texts admonishing the wealthy and righteous to take care of the poor! Moreover, the utter neglect of those passages which tell us that sometimes the righteous suffer financial and physical hardships (e.g. Job)! It’s amazing how much we can hurt and abuse each other by picking and choosing our “biblical” views. Scripture asks us to have mercy and compassion on others, regardless of how they ended up where they are. The tax collector and the crippled man from birth both receive mercy.

    I mean, whatever happened to all of the parables Jesus told about the wealthy neglecting the suffering and the poor (e.g. the sheep and the goats), on top of all the OT texts which demand justice for the weak and poor and needy (e.g. Isa 1; Mic 6:8)? And how can we forget Paul’s plea at the end of Galatians, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (6:10)?

    It doesn’t matter where the “righteous” put the blame, they are still called to help and consider those in need whenever the opportunity arises.

  17. 4-6-2011

    Andy,

    That’s a powerful Psalm, along with the other passages that you mentioned. I keep thinking about when Jesus quoted Hosea: “God desires mercy and not sacrifice.”

    -Alan

  18. 4-7-2011

    One thing we have done after experiencing middle class poverty for ourselves is that we now try to give our $$ to individuals rather than ministries. This is very controversial and at first I found myself doing this: “Spend lots of time being vexed over whether giving this person or family money is the ‘best’ use for it.” but I did come to the conclusion that “God’s whole universal budget” would not be disturbed if we made a mistake. The reason we feel justified in doing this is that in the OT it seemed the tithes went into the storehouse but in our churches there is no storehouse for members of the body.

  19. 4-7-2011

    Kay,

    The NT teaches the same kind of giving that you’re practicing. Look especially at James 2:15-16 and 1 John 3:17. Similarly, the only collections taken by the church in the NT were given to people in need. For example, see Acts 11:29-30 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-4. Both of those collections were given to people facing a lack of food or other need, not for the church who was taking up the money. The same could be said for the support mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:10. The church in Philippi took up money to send to Paul, not to keep it for themselves.

    So… keep giving to those in need!

    -Alan

  20. 4-12-2011

    We follow not only the scriptures you mentioned above, but the example of St. John Chrysostom. He gave and gave and gave and never once worried about whether the person receiving used the money “wisely.” (How often do we see someone who says, “Oh, they’d just by liquor or drugs with any money I give them.”) Maybe the person will buy other than necessities. But that is between him and God.

    My job is simply to do what is commanded of me, not to judge others. God tells us to give, so we give. Our actions are between God and us. We must be obedient.

  21. 4-12-2011

    Anna,

    You said, “But that is between him and God.” Exactly!

    The giving part is between me and God. What happens after I give it is between the other person and God.

    -Alan

  22. 5-25-2011

    Two weeks ago I spent time in Beaumont, Texas with a friend Mike who has been ministering to lower income people now for several years. He was once a traditional pastor and was called by God to leave and follow Him. After many months of waiting and praying he was led to go to into some lower income neighborhoods. He would drive through the different neighborhoods and pray. He did this for weeks. Over time, he got out of his car and began walking around, talking to those who lived there. Six years later, there are now about 120+ individuals who are now believers in Jesus Christ. They were drug addicts, abusers, drug dealers, thieves, sick, and lonely. Today they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Mike took me out with him on his regular Saturday visits. They call them house meetings. Mike prays and the Holy Spirit puts different people on his heart and schedules time to visit with them.

    We went to half a dozen houses where we were always warmly greeted. Some people lived in nice clean homes. At the first house a young man in his twenties sat on his front porch in a t-shirt and pajama bottoms. He got up to greet us with his hand extended “Hello”. He led us into his house, sparsely furniture, neat and in order. He walked us into a converted garage that was now a family room. Mike sat on the floor, I sat on a nice comfortable love seat. His wife and cousin joined us on the sofa. Mike asked about how they had been and they talked as I noticed on the far wall a color photo of Dr. Martin Luther King. It was centered on the wall surrounded by four dancing abstract figures, one on the top, one to the right and left and the forth directly underneath. Dr. King had a place of great respect in their home. Our host had been suffering from residual effects of a car accident, his cousin was headed to court Monday morning for a hearing. We all prayed for physical healing from the back pain. Next for God’s will to be done in court. There were smiles and thanks to Jesus all around and a scheduled pick-up time for a ride to tomorrow morning to the community center.

    Another man lived in a rat infested blood stained room with blowing sheets for windows. He was asleep on a brown, dirty mattress. Struggling to wake from his dreams and a tattered blanket. He had just gotten out of the hospital and was weak and hungry. But was full of praises for Jesus. A quick trip to the store for the requested white bread, boloney, and fruit punch and he was that much closer to heaven.

    Another elderly gentleman had just moved into an apartment from a nursing home. “God answered my prayers Mike, God answered my prayers!” He exclaimed as we walked up to him sitting outside his front door in his wheelchair. “Praise God! He answered my prayer! You know this apartment is from the Lord? He answered my prayers!” he just kept repeating it. “Yes sir!” We replied. His thanks to the Lord was infectious. Despite his physical condition there was nothing but thanks and a face that beamed brighter than any words could express. We introduced ourselves to several others in the building, invited them to the gathering the next day to celebrate Jesus at the community center with us. Some head nods and handshakes as Mike said, “we’ll see you and talk again.”

    Mike had one particular women who he wanted me to meet, but wasn’t sure she would let me into her house, as she has a very difficult time around people she doesn’t know. He called her and invited us over. She was concerned, hesitant about having a new visitor. Her room was in an old converted YMCA, repurposed as low income housing. Mike was invited into her apartment as I waited outside until the all clear. Once inside her apartment there as a gold bird cage with two tiny birds, one yellow, one red. She was standing staring straight ahead at the them as I entered the room. I got as still as she was and didn’t flinch a bit. “Those are beautiful birds.” I said. “There’re chirping because they’re afraid of you.” she replied. “They afraid and don’t know what to do, so they’re chirping.” I was frozen. We were all caged at that moment. The birds, this women, Mike and I. “They’re chirping is beautiful and there colors are so bright.” I eventually said. “Yeah” she replied. “Have a seat” Mike interjected. Mike swung a chair out from under a small table and took a seat, I sat on a chair next to a floor lamp. She sat down on an armchair and began caressing it’s arms repeatedly. We soon found out that one of her friends who was a drug addict had OD’d the day before. She had just found out earlier that morning, She was bound with grief, confused and desperate. She slowly opened up and talked as best she could through her pain. We shared in her tears and heartache. When we left she gave Mike a smile and a hug. She looked at me and said, “I’ll give you a hug too” and wrapped her arms around me and I squeezed ever so gently back on God’s little bird.

    The next day at the community center about 45 or so believers from the neighborhood gathered to express their love for their Savior and Redeemer. Mothers separated from their children, children without their parents, couples who no longer beat each other, sons and daughters who left their drug use and other addictions behind simply walked in, greeted each other, sat, prayed and worshipped the Lord together. As I looked around at a room of faces I would have just walked on by years ago, I found myself staring at each and every one, a reflection of Jesus Christ.

    Much love to you all, may your eyes be opened, your ears hear and your hearts made flesh.

  23. 7-12-2011

    Awesome post. And awesome comments. As someone who has worked multiple jobs just to get by and has been laid off three times, I totally verify her comments. As anyone who has worked to tips will tell you, the best tippers are the working stiffs, especially those who’ve had to rely on tips. In the same way, the most cheerful givers are usually those who have been on the receiving end in desperate times. I have virtually no savings because every time I have some money saved up, God puts before me someone in dire need. My wife and I love to write large checks. Not that a few days later, I wonder if I did the “responsible” thing, I confess. But God has always been faithful (but not always easy or painless).

  24. 7-13-2011

    For us who know how destitute we were in spirit before Christ, we should be able to be sensitive to those in utter lack. I think it takes a poverty of spirit to make room in our hearts for others. Jesus became poor, lived among the poor, served the poor, identified with the poor and his heart was for the least of these. If He has given us His heart, we will find Him among the poor.

  25. 9-14-2011

    My family went through very hard times when I quit the full-time ministry. I’m thankful for brothers and sisters who stepped up to help us, even though we’d only just met.

  26. 10-12-2011

    very powerful and challenging. The part ….. I would say it is a difference in how you view “the poor”. Are the poor a “problem”? Are they “potential” converts or church members? Are they a good “project” for the church? Or are they ‘people’? God-created, God-loved, died-for people. ….. that just cut through me. Lord help me see you.

  27. 10-12-2011

    I am so glad this was written, but it seems talking about the problem is all we can do. No one wants to put their hand in their pocket. Yep I am there and I have a whole wardrobe of t-shirts. When will the church be the church?

  28. 2-1-2012

    I recently read this on another blog. It is convicting and humbling. I don’t consider us poor – but we are struggling. I keep looking for work, as does my husband. His work flow is inconsistent and I’m working PT praying for a FT job. We’re blessed that my work provides insurance on a PT position – but it takes quite a bit of the check.

    A couple of weeks ago I was gifted with a check from a local church. It was humbling as I didn’t know that people saw us in need. I am grateful for this church as I see it caring for others in the community – regardless whether they attend their church or not. I am grateful for this church as I know they pray. I know they love. When I called the pastor to thank him – he said they wanted to do it, they had some money and it does no good sitting in the bank. I tried to tell him how I planned on spending it – I could tell he didn’t expect or even want to know – he said he was glad they could help. That was all.

    What did I do with the money? Well, I won’t tell all – but I will say the first thing I did was send $100 to another I knew was in need. If I am blessed – I must share.

  29. 2-1-2012

    i struggle in wanting to do all the things she listed above.

    as for the “what if they use it for drugs” regarding the homeless – the Bible speaks to that. I was shocked when I read it. I didn’t realize it was even in there. Of course it would blow judgmental ways to bits, so we conveniently ignore it.

    Proverbs 31:
    6 Let beer be for those who are perishing,
    wine for those who are in anguish!
    7 Let them drink and forget their poverty
    and remember their misery no more.

  30. 2-1-2012

    Admittedly I fall into more of the negative categories than I would like to admit. I don’t earn a lot of income myself but I am extremely blessed and privileged in life. Sadly I have often passed up opportunities to love people because they are people due to my tight grip on my ‘own’(like it’s not God’s anyway)money and preconceived ideas regarding the hardships of others. Like I have any right to judge. God doesn’t say give to those who deserve it, He just tells us to give. He never said critique the person’s life choices to determine their eligibility for assistance, He tells us to consider others more important than ourselves. I was listening to Francis Chan just a little while ago preach on this very thing….I don’t believe it’s coincidence.

  31. 2-1-2012

    I’m glad people are continuing to link to and read this post. It is an important issue that followers of Jesus need to think about and act on.

    -Alan

  32. 2-1-2012

    This is so true just a few days ago my youngest son 8 years old told me mom how come church people say alot of good things but don’t do it. I can comment about of what I think but does it really matter. I want to help this lady and many more, make a difference plactice what I preach.Faith into action.so email me and tell me how,when,where.. Thank you and God bless.

  33. 2-1-2012

    I so understand her story. Church isn’t about helping, much. They do like the guilt trip act. They guilt you into feeling it is your fault that you are sick yet there are so many places in the Bible that show God wants you healthy and does not make you I’ll to punish you. Jesus to a HELL of a beating to HEAL. So that doesn’t work. I will never be a member of a ” country club ” church again.

  34. 2-1-2012

    Someone ought to send them to Romney especially if you are voting for him he said “I don’t care about the poor we have provisions for them I am for the middle class” I wish this country would understand this is the second time the office of president is being purchased the most money is not what we need we need someone that understands the wheels of this hierarchy and knows how to dismantle it LIKE Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin come on America put our country back on track. We had Presidents like this Lincoln for one.

  35. 2-1-2012

    I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor and I can’t say which I prefer. I believe I preferred being poor. It was hard to go to church then, when I had so little and when it was so apparent that I was the poor girl. But I’ve never felt so close to Christ as I did then, and I would give back ll that I have gained to feel that again. The proximity.

    That being said, Christ gave lavishly of Himself to the least deserving. We are called to follow His example, not to judge or ask questions, just to give.

  36. 2-1-2012

    Overall I feel that our society is; (cic;sounds like sick)
    complacent,ignorant,comfortable
    and do not want to be moved.

  37. 2-2-2012

    Very true from my experience…until you live and work with them…but profoundly in my case…God just keep shoving it in front of my face until I got it?

  38. 2-2-2012

    Late in 2010, my wife and I began to see the increasing seriousness of poverty in America. As Christians, we were troubled by our lack of participation and the lack of understanding and concern that we saw in many fellow Christians and churches. Nearing retirement, I resigned from the corporate world, sensing God’s calling for us to join the battle. After much prayer, study, travel and many meetings and discussions with spectators, helpers and the helpless, it became clear what He wanted us to do.

    He has called us to a unique ministry ‘helping those who help the helpless’, for the most part here in Florida. We saw many gaps in the overall effort to address the needs of the poor that needed filling. Early in 2011, we became Benevolence Support Services (www.benevolence-support-services.com) with the following tasks to support our mission:

    1. Create a website that provides Charities and Social Services Directories to help churches, non-profits, social services agencies, counselors, institutions, law enforcement, school administrations, teachers,and more, see all benevolence resources that exist in their county and thereby make referal and collaboration much more effective.

    2. Create a website where agencies can share their needs.

    3. Create a website where churches and non-profits can have a free web page.

    4. Write a book, a mobilization guide, to help Christians understand poverty, the needs of the poor and how to get engaged.

    5. Create a workshop through which we can help fellow Christians understand poverty, the government assistance programs, the needs of the poor and how to get out of the church and into the community.

    Many comments, both in this article and in regard to this article, have so aptly pointed out the great lack of understanding that leads to lack of compassion even among Christians. We too were shocked at hearing these misconceptions firsthand.

    The leading of God, the seriousness of the problem and the lack of understanding among so many Christians is what has driven us to this ministry. The website is up and running, the book has been written and published and we are now delivering workshops in churches here in Florida. God’s people are responding very positively, realizing their responsibilities to God and the poor as disciples of Christ. The entire Bible is filled with admonitions to help the poor, the sick, the hungry, the widows, the orphans, the imprissoned. How is it possible to miss this?

    Having said the above, I hasten to say that many Christians and churches do ‘get it’ and have been in the trenches long before God called us to join. We learned much form those who have been so dedicated, which strengthened our determination to help others get involved in true discipleship. With government programs falling away and the poor population ever increasing, we must all do our part to fill the gaps. Do you want to add fulfillment to your life, meaning and effectiveness? Engage! Let us know if we can help you.

    http://www.benevolence-support-services.com
    markehazen@benevolence-support-services.com

  39. 2-6-2012

    And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40 KJV)
    Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2 KJV)
    Let us not just read these two scriptures, but live to abide by them
    LET US NOT JUST READ THESE TWO SCRIPTURES, BUT LIVE TO ABIDE BY THEM

  40. 2-18-2012

    if you have not been poor you will never understand the poor

  41. 2-18-2012

    Let’s all keep in mind that you do not have to have been poor to help the poor. Those who have never been poor may not fully understand the poor and their circumstances, but you can learn a lot by letting Christ work through you to help them. So, even if you don’t understand the poor, Christ does and can still work his love through you.

  42. 3-28-2012

    i’d go a bit further and say the key is to identify with the poor and weak which does not automatically happen if one is poor for a season. One can leave poverty and quickly lose touch. Ultimately every person has a unique story which we need to enter into if we want to help them… that is the trouble when our assistance is exclusively at arms length through an organisation or program.
    Thank you for this story as poverty needs to be personalised.

  43. 3-28-2012

    Wonderful post. That’s why, I think, we ought not to make rules about giving, but, with a loving, generous heart, follow the Holy Spirit in when and how much to give. I’ve tried to practice this for many years and have learned by experience, sometimes He says “No” and most times He lets me, and sometimes He says, “Be very generous to this one”.

  44. 11-26-2012

    I haven’t read the comments here, but I do have something to say.

    There is something that those who are “poor” see, that most of those who are not “poor” cannot see. If you are “poor,” if you are of dire need for life, if you are starving, they know that you don’t go to those who have abundance, who are rich, for help. You know to go to the poor, because they will share whatever it is they have with you, and without judgment or scorn. They know what it is for your entire body to tremble uncontrollably from sheer hunger. They know what it is to be so cold that you think you may never be warm again. They know what it is to sleep on a bed of concrete. They know the loneliness of without, because nobody can see them. Most walk on by as though that person is not there, as they go about their busied shopping day, while chatting up a storm about this and about that. They know the desperation and humiliation that comes when you have no choice but to ask for help, or die. The homeless and hungry know the depths of compassion, because they have lived without the compassion of others. Everybody knows the “poor” help the “poor.” Why? Because nobody can see them beyond their ragged clothes they must wear day after day. The “poor” may be lacking many things, but in compassion they are usually the wealthiest people on the planet. That’s all I have say about being “poor.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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