Missionaries in foreign countries often create the opportunity to share the gospel with people by first meeting the physical needs of the people they are trying to reach. They go in and offer food, medical care, and shelter to those who are lacking. They share God’s love for them in tangible ways and then tell the people of God’s love and the sacrifice that was made for them through Jesus Christ.
Why does this practice seem to be limited to foreign missions? There are many homeless and struggling people right here in the U.S. who could use the same tangible expressions of love from the Church. Would someone not be more open to hearing about God’s love for them from someone who just showed them love? As Christians, we must realize that loving people by caring for their needs is not separate from sharing God’s word with them. In fact, the two should be inseparable. We cannot do either fully without the other.
For those thinking that the homeless situation in the U.S. is not real, or that it only pertains to alcoholic men, read this article from the Santa Maria Times in Santa Maria, CA. It suggests that many of the homeless are single women with children. How can we ignore them?
There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?
Those are some big numbers! Not for Jesus.
I remember when I was little; Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma and Aunts and Uncles from our family would make a load of sandwiches and drinks and head to the park where we held “street meetings” music, stories, testimonies, then the preaching of the Glorious Gospel Of Christ; all while these came to get the hand-outs.
City ordinances have changed since then, but it would get real interesting. Heckling, open dialogue, sometimes bums who liked the message and food would defend us. One guy even looked like Jesus. I looked forward to these meetings.
The stories of the single Mothers is heart rending. This could be a great opportunity for soul winning among those Moms and all their young-uns. Angel tree and the Salvation Army are Christ-centered ways to help by giving.
Donating to established relief organizations is a good idea but I always liked seeing these … Just dropping off a donation has it’s place but when your kids see the people being helped that’s a good memory from being a kid. I wonder if a story time in the park designed to get the kid’s attention would be possible? The Parents would hear too, if the kids were drawn in.
I recently discovered this website: http://www.everywun.com that donates money to non-profit organizations such as The Hunger Project when you put up a virtual badge on your website. Its a great way to donate to charity …it only costs a few minutes of your time.
One of the reasons that we Christians ignore these people is that we’re afraid that we might be taken advantage of. You know, “I bet, he’s really not homeless, I see him all over town.” As Christians, I think we need to accept the possibility that we might be “scammed” in our efforts to help the truly needy. Of course, those people doing the scamming need to be in the right relationship with the Lord as much as you or me or the truly homeless.
One of my most memorable moments in literature is a scene from Hugo’s “Les Mis’erables.” In this scene a kind man takes in a desperate one. The Desperate man shows his gratitude by stealing the other man’s silver. When the police bring the apprehended Desperate man to the kind one, instead of seeking retribution, he says, “Yes, that was my silver, but there’s been a mistake because he forgot to take the silver candle sticks, too.” This incident changes the Desperate Man’s life. Okay, it’s a corny scene, but it changed my life in a small way, too. Although I don’t give money to every street person I see, I will not let the possibility of being taken advantage of, discourage me from helping those in need.
Oh …I find it amazing that EVERYONE has their hand out today from the corporate executives of our major auto makers to the homeless single parent mothers. What’s a poor blue collar to do?
Begin each day with prayer and Bible reading and let God lead …
IN GOD WE TRUST
Thanks Tim for bringing this to the forefront.