Helping the Poor and Homeless – Start SmallBased on some of the recent posts from Sam Riviera about helping the poor and homeless in our communities, many people have emailed me about how they can begin doing this in their own communities.
Here is one example of a message that was sent in:
I have been following your posts for some time. You present a freshness to “Christianity” that I rarely see.I think that this is a question many people have, so I decided to write a post about it.
The blogger who said that he had quit going to church but it still hurts I am afraid I share that same sentiment. My husband and I stopped late last year. He for different reasons than myself but both are the reasons you and this blogger mentioned. We are older believers and have seen much.
Since I was a little girl, I have been saddened by the Church’s response to those less fortunate. Today I am deeply disturbed by how much it has become a house of hate instead of love. I don’t presume to say that all Christians are like that. I only know that one is way too many.
I would appreciate any help you can give me on gaining the courage to do what you and your family does. How do I get others involved? Thank you for your daily inspiration and love.
First, I am encouraged by emails and comments like this because it shows that many people are taking the courageous step of following Jesus wherever He leads. I am convinced that “leaving church” so that we can “be the church” is one of the most difficult–but important–steps a person can make in their life of discipleship. This step is not for everyone, but I think it is becoming more and more important for people today if they want to see Jesus at work among those in our communities who are truly needy.
Second, as to how to start, Sam included many practical suggestions in his blog series about how to get started, but let me share a little bit about what we are doing in my family.
My recommendation is this:
Begin small. Very small.How small? The biggest small way you can start: with prayer.
Pray for opportunities to present themselves. Pray that Jesus would open your eyes and ears to see where He is leading.
Then, begin looking and listening.
Listen for things people say which might allow you to have conversations with them. Or as you are reading the newspaper, look for opportunities to serve somewhere in your town. Or as you are driving around, look for shelters or organizations where you can volunteer.
So this first step is just to pray and then keep your eyes and ears open.
Then, take another small step:
Take Action.Based on what you see or hear, begin to get involved in small ways with the things you saw and heard.
Here are some examples:
As you drove around, did you start noticing homeless people? Think about putting together some “gift bags” for them which you can quickly and easily hand to them. Get some cheap bags from somewhere online, and fill them with some non-perishable food items, a cheap tarp, some new socks, and some single-use basic hygiene items, and then put 2-3 of these in your car to pass out whenever you see someone who might need one.
Or maybe while you were running errands, you saw a homeless shelter. Call them up and see what volunteer opportunities might be available, and then talk with your husband about going down to help out one time per week.
Or maybe one of your friends said something in passing about helping the poor. Call her up and mention to her that what she said really stuck in your mind and ask if she would be interested in getting together for coffee and brainstorming about how to help the poor in the community.
So basically, helping those who are less fortunate begins with believing that Jesus wants to lead you to help them, and then praying for eyes to see where He wants to lead you, and then looking for these places or people that He brings to your attention. It will be different for everybody, so don’t necessarily think that the ways I talk about on my blog are the ways Jesus will lead you. It might be similar, but it also might be very different.
In fact, Jesus might not lead you to poor and homeless people at all. He might lead you to your neighbors or to the family down the street. Just keep your eyes and ears open as you pray to Jesus to lead you to the people He wants you to love. In the near future Sam Riviera will begin another series of posts about how to do this in your neighborhood. So keep checking back!