What Does God Want Us To Do About the Homeless and Impoverished?
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. Matthew 25:42-43
I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Matthew 25:45
A Critical Problem: Christians Are Apathetic. Our church benevolence budgets are miniscule. Yes, we could empty our bank accounts helping the poor. Can we really do like the rich young ruler and walk away sadly from the impoverished while we have enough in our bank accounts to last us several months if we never took up another offering? Compare your missions budget with your benevolence budget. These two items are likely at the bottom of the list anyway … but I would guess that benevolence is in last place. The level of Christian involvement in local community relief efforts is minimal. Contributing to this is a refusal by many churches to cooperate with other churches in providing relief. Ever heard a sermon on the “sin” of giving to the Salvation Army? That same sermon never mentions the “sin” of turning away from the needy and the church’s nearly total absence of compassion ministry. One reason Christians are apathetic in caring for the poor is that we see nothing to GAIN from this ministry. The world has given us our view of the homeless, not Jesus. The church as a whole has failed to acknowledge and minister to the homeless. The sheer numbers of homeless people in America is a staggering testimony against the self-obsessed & wealthy church community.
Remember, Jesus Was Homeless and Lived in Poverty. His life was not characterized by substance abuse and some of the other problems we see among contemporary homeless people, but he never owned a home. He depended on the kindness of others.
What Can We Do?
- Join with others in offering relief – Soup kitchens, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, Red Cross, Food Pantrys, Salvation Army, Relief Agencies in your city. They always need help with a variety of needs … even cleaning up after offering service to others. Why re-invent the wheel?
- Make A Call to a local mission … perhaps they would let your group come and sing one night … or bring needed toiletries … or offer prayer. Just ask … there may be something very simple that they need help with.
- Collect furniture and other needed items for homeless families that enter back into housing. Network with Red Cross, United Way, and other agencies that help people get back on their feet. Become known as a “go to” person for these needs.
- Churches can establish new outreach opportunities to target unmet needs in certain areas. HOMELESS CHURCH is a ministry in San Francisco that uses busses to distribute materials, have worship services, serve food. Use your imagination. Some churches have busses loaded with clothing sorted by sizes for easy distribution in the neighborhoods that need them.
- Share What you have with others. We might have yard sales of all of that ‘stuff’ in our houses and donate funds to organizations that serve the needy. There are many Christian organizations that specifically help homeless and the serverly impoverished. Dry Bones Denver is an excellent one that helps young street people in the Dever area.
- Pray for God to lead you into opportunities to bless the lives of other people who have little.
- Do Not Be Discouraged by the immense challenges of serving and helping others. The homeless are often criticized … and so are those who help them. This is a problem that is not going away any time soon. Don’t give up!
- Seek to relieve one burden for one hour. If you can lighten the load of another human being for just a short time, you will be demonstrating the love of Christ for that person.
- See people with the eyes of Jesus. How would Jesus love this person?
- Seek out poor and needy people in your church and find ways to relieve their burdens.
These are just random ideas … there are perhaps hundreds more. Leave more ideas in the comments. God needs a generation of believers who will love all people just as much as He does. Christianity is more about DOING than THINKING. Let this become your life’s passion.
“You Will Always Have The Poor Among You…” John 12:8. The mission never goes away.
It’s Friday the 13th! Are you superstitious? Do you know how to spell that word? It’s also Fidel Castro’s birthday. Good thing we don’t believe in luck, good or bad!
Thanks for reading!