Chuck Foreman – Teaching / Missions Pastor
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
There’s something about compassion for the poor and less fortunate that is central to the heart of God. And according to Jesus, if you read on in his message about the ‘sheep and the goats’ here in Matthew 25, there’s also something about compassion for the poor and less fortunate that separates the righteous from the unrighteous. If the faith that saved us is genuine, it will move us to care for the poor.
But as we put actions to our sentiment toward the poor, let’s come up ways to care for the poor that don’t simply enable them to remain in poverty, but empower them to lift themselves out of their poverty and into wholeness and productivity, being able to contribute something to others with their lives. This will only happen if a couple of changes occur in our approach to service and “helping”:
- Serving the poor can no longer just be an event on our church calendar, after which we pat ourselves on the back and wait for the same event to roll around next month or next year. It must become what we do—or at least what some of us do as we are supported by others who want to help us do what we do.
- We must stop enabling the poor and homeless to stay poor and homeless. We must stop just meeting needs and start helping the poor and homeless meet their own needs. We must help them put the fragmented pieces of their lives back in place so that they can become self-sufficient.
- As we feed and clothe the homeless, we must also be helping them along their own path toward possessing the power to feed and clothe themselves. You don’t end hunger by feeding people. You end hunger by addressing the underlying reasons for poverty. A feeding event will fill a stomach for one meal. A person empowered to gain and keep a job will feed himself/herself for a lifetime.
- This will take not only compassion, but time and collaboration between concerned Christians and churches who, together have the resources to help the poor and homeless change their lives.
We have a great opportunity right here in our own community through Impact Phoenix and the I-HELP program to help the helpless and the hopeless rebuild their lives and become whole again. Please consider what your role in this might be, as the church moves forward to supply the caring and compassion piece of the complicated homelessness puzzle. There is something here for everyone. Provide a meal together with your small group. Come serve the meal you’ve prepared and share it together with our homeless guests on Thursday evening, showing them genuine interest and concern. Join the laundry team. Join the sack lunch team. Join the host/hostess team who make the simple welcoming preparations for our guests each Thursday evening. Contribute toiletries. Pray for our guests. Pray for the skilled specialists who are guiding our guests through their personal, customized plan toward wholeness. Encourage each other.