“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
We are often moved by images of famine and suffering, our compassion is stirred when we see a homeless person holding a cardboard sign, we feel a sense of injustice at poverty levels for families in places around the world. The problem is that we usually don’t do anything about it because we either don’t know what to do or we feel helpless because the issues are so complex.
For example do we give money to the homeless man? Is he going to use it for alcohol? How will I know it will meet a real need?
What about poor families and individuals around the world? The problems are so big because international governments are involved and corrupt, right? These kids I hear about are half way round the world in India – it’s not possible to ‘get involved’!
Although the problems are often complex and it’s hard to discern the best action to take in helping others we are called to still ‘do’ something. It’s not always easy, but then again ‘easy’ was never a promise of Jesus! Jesus’ words are our purpose. We are his voice of love and compassion to others, our hands are His. Therefore we should be reaching out to those in need with actions of hope, love and healing in Jesus’ name; and reaching out to those in need with words of hope, love and healing in Jesus’ name!
How do we do this? What we can do is prayerfully do what we can, following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I will talk about the homeless here in Part 1 and then talk about families in poverty around the world in Part 2 next week and share a little about our family’s experiences.
There have been times we have stopped to make time to care. I always ask the person in need their name and I listen to their story. If I stop and talk to someone in this type of situation I have made a rule to not offer money. I have offered them my phone to call someone if they want to let them know they’re okay, I have gone back into Walmart and bought them a meal and I have bought a tank of gas to help them get to the next point. One time in the parking lot of a Walmart a dad approached us and wanted to give his kids something to eat. We literally had just bought bread, sandwich meat, drinks and snacks – all of which we gave to him. If there is a genuine need, most likely God has used us to meet it. If nothing else we have stopped and taken the time to validate this person. Then we have chosen to pray for them by name afterwards.
There are also ministries and churches in our communities that can help to the next level and it is good to get to know how to refer someone for help. We are blessed here in the Tampa area to have a great ministry working specifically with the homeless and low income families called “Metropolitan Ministries”. Check out their ministry to learn more about serving poor and homeless families and helping to prevent homelessness.
If the body of Christ won’t respond then who will?