Category Archives: healthcare

We Have A Great Hope

WE HAVE A GREAT HOPE

We have a great hope
that together
we can make a difference,
that one day we will see:

the promises of our faith,
the fruits of our labor,
and the results of our perseverance.

With churches reaching out to communities,
sharing the gospel and meeting the needs of
the poor and needy, we believe it is possible to have:

Neighborhood sanctuaries full,
 integrated with people from all races
praising God together.  

Streets that are safe to walk on,
without gangs or violence.
 
Families intact, so no spouse or
child will ever suffer from abuse.

Every student excelling, in good schools,
having an equal opportunity
to reach their fullest potential.

The elderly living in comfort and dignity,
in communities with neighbors
of all ages, races and income,
gladly loving each other.

Job readiness, retention and advancement for all people,
allowing families to earn the income they need.  

Mixed income neighborhoods,
not displacing the poor, but living as equal.
 
Every person with enough to eat,
no more need for homeless shelters,
soup kitchens or begging on the streets.

Every family with access to the best medical care.

We have this hope because of the living God,
His Word and His Church.

A hope kept alive,
because we are the called ones
commanded to live a life of love.

But hope without obedience is despair
and faith without works is dead.

Therefore we will strive, one community at a time,
churches joining other churches
making a difference
house by house, street by street
fulfilling His great desire, that

“as you have done it to the least of these,
you have done it to me.”   
      
REO

____________________________________________________

For more information on how your church can get involved in reaching the community e-mail Ron Ovitt at ron@calvaryop.org and we will send you a copy of Close To The Heart of God. Also go to www.layministry.com for helpful materials.

Do you want to know more about your Spiritual Gifts? CLICK HERE to download your free Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook. 

To learn more how you can get started in ministry, CLICK HERE to download your free copy of How Am I Wired For Ministry?
 

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We are calling upon the Church to join in a revolution to rebuild impoverished communities

We are calling upon the Church to join in a revolution to rebuild impoverished communities through:

Church Ministry Partnerships
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with their sister churches in impoverished neighborhoods. This can be accomplished through assisting in neighborhood evangelism, building adequate facilities, aid in mercy ministries and support in any teaching or pastoral capacity if needed.

Eradication of Poverty
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by the eradication of poverty. This can be accomplished through assisting local churches in job training, placement, retention and advancement. We can also assist these sister churches by mentoring, teaching job skills and helping create entrepreneurial opportunities. We can advocate for fair living wages and affordable daycare.

Quality Education
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with communities to help provide quality education. Whether it is assisting local churches to provide alternative education or working with existing schools through facility repairs, tutoring, after school homework centers, summer learning academies, churches can aid in quality education to the children of the community.  

Affordable Housing
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by assisting in the clean up of neighborhoods, remodeling distressed properties, building of affordable homes and mentoring potential new home owners.

Youth Programs
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with their sister churches and assisting where needed in the provision of day care, youth programs, educational enhancement and parenting training.

Assisting the Elderly
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with their sister churches in providing elder care, senior housing, and adequate health provisions.

Health Care
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with sister churches and making sure that quality affordable health care is available to all members of the community.

What Then Is Our Response?
When we look at Acts at the very birth of the Church, how can we consider living any different than they did? In Acts 2:42-47 it says:

 They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
 
 Again in Acts 4:32, the scriptures say:
  
 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

You Are The Church. What Are You Going To Do?
There has never been a better time to get involved in community development. Municipalities are looking for assistance in the face of an over burgeoning social issues and shrinking revenue. What if churches would work together in entrepreneurial ways and create results? What if the impact of a sustained evangelical community development project reduced crime, teen pregnancy and lowered the recidivism of people back into the penal system? What if faith-based economic initiatives and mixed-income housing actually did bring back the economy to distraught communities? What if we could rebuild neighborhoods without displacing the poor? What if churches again became vibrant assets to a community in which it was located? Maybe then not only we, but the world would understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may glorify your Father in Heaven.”

Taken from Ron Ovitt’s book Close To The Heart Of God. To learn more about making a differnce go to www.layministry.com

Do you know your Spiritual Gifts? If not CLICK HERE for a FREE Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook.

All of Us Can Do Something To Help Those In Need

 Viv Grigg has spent his life among the poor and recruits many others to do the same. One would think he would be insistent on everyone relocating to a poor village. Instead he talks about God’s calling. In his first book, Companion to the Poor, he writes about commitment without total identification.

 People often ask “Were you called to minister to the poor?” We are all called to minister to the poor. Such a ministry is the logical obedience of any disciple imitating the attitudes, character and teaching of Jesus. He commands everyone to renounce all (Luke 14:33), to give to the poor and live simply. But we would need a special call to minister primarily to the rich or middle-class, for the focus of Christian ministry is ‘good news to the poor.’
 Not all, however, are called to a life of total identification with the poor by living among them!
 Lazarus, Mary, and Martha are examples of the middle-class of Israel. They had a large home, kept it, and used it for the Lord and his disciples as a retreat center.
 I have not discerned God calling many of my middle-class friends to lives of identification with the poor. Some heard and refused his call, but in general, the Lord seemed to be calling them to a ministry among their middle-class peers. To expect them to choose identification with the poor was to expect them to become apostles and missionaries across a great social, economic, and cultural barrier.
 Nevertheless, like Lazarus, Mary and Martha, the middle-class can have a significant commitment to the poor.

 By the time he wrote his second book, Cry of the Urban Poor, Viv Grigg was recruiting missionaries from all around the world to live among the poor. He has a passion for urban ministry but again he writes:

 As Christians, we must encourage all people in all levels of society to have a focus of ministry to the poor. This does not imply that all should live among the poor.
 We must call all people in all levels of society to lives of simplicity so that others may simply live. This does not imply that all should live among the poor. We must call all to the patterns of renunciation that we see in Jesus’ teaching. This does not imply that all should live among the poor.
 But we must also hold out to people the further call of Jesus for many to take up an apostolic lifestyle of identification with the poor in order that the poor people’s church might be established. 

 In Companion of the Poor, Viv Grigg continues this line of reasoning.

 Over the years, my hall of fame has grown to include the lives of Calvin, Finney, Booth, Wesley, Assisi, Xavier, Mother Teresa, and many others committed to the poor.
 There are marked differences in the lives of these people. Yet all understood the centrality of preaching. And all understood the necessity of focusing on the poor as a priority.
 Kagawa, Assisi, and Xavier lived as poor men among the poor. Booth, Wesley and Calvin chose simple lifestyles. All moved from lives as pure evangelists to become evangelistic social reformers: fighters against sin and fighters against poverty and social injustice at every level of society.

 St. Francis of Assisi himself set up a ‘third order’ for those who wanted to work for the poor but could not live a life of poverty with him. Bernard Christensen in the book, The Inward Pilgrimage, shares an account from The Little Flowers, a book about the life of Assisi.

 In a village where he (St. Francis of Assisi) first preached, his message was so well received that all the people wanted to join the order; but Francis told them not to decide too quickly, and in his mind he began to plan the organization of a Third Order to be made up entirely of lay people who continued in their regular callings but still followed certain religious devotions and services ‘for the salvation of all people everywhere’. Thieves and robbers joined the order because he dared to treat them as people.

 Viv Grigg closes his argument in Companion To the Poor with a challenge for us to live by. He writes:

 One day I was sitting relaxing with some middle-class friends eating ice-cream. The Lord brought to mind the passage immediately preceding His call to renunciation. Jesus said,
 ‘When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your …rich neighbors…But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.’ (Luke 14:12-14)
 We are to enjoy life, but with and for the poor and needy. We are to die to our economic selves, but we are to live glorious economic resurrection lives for others.
 My message to the middle-class could be summed up by the following five slogans: Earn much, Consume little, Hoard nothing, Give generously and Celebrate life.

CLICK HERE to ORDER Viv Grigg’s book, Companion to the Poor: Christ in the Urban Slums
 

CLICK HERE to ORDER Viv Grigg’s book, Cry of the Urban Poor: Reaching the Slums of Today’s Megacities

Can Capitialism Be Compassionate?

 

Over the years I have been deeply involved in fundraising, community development and what I call compassionate capitalism. I never saw capitalism any other way. Perhaps that is because my introduction to Christianity and business were both at the same time. I always saw business as a service first and a profit second. Ironically, most of the time I have experienced that the better the service the more profit there was.

I have always loved the concept of rewarding those that work hard to make a company succeed. I believe in giving incentive pay or better yet, employees some ownership. If incentive pay or ownership was not possible, at the very least good pay and benefits for those who make it all work. This is the part of capitalism that I love. But over the years I have witnessed a darker side of capitalism. A side that runs counter to the love, kindness, and generosity that we are taught in the scriptures. It is the capitalism that makes a profit at all costs. It is indifferent to the below poverty wages that 30% of American employees make or that between the 1970’s and into the new century, income declined for three out of five Americans. Rather it revels in the disproportionate income for those in the top management and stockholders, compared to the employees that work in the factories to generate the income. It’s not concerned about whole industries leaving tens of thousands unemployed because it can make it cheaper with a child workforce in a foreign land. It is oblivious to those that have labored for thirty years only to be let go in their fifties never to have the same earning potential again. It can have a factory, office, and warehouses not too far from the worst of neighborhoods and never do anything to lift the community out of poverty and crime. As long as it doesn’t affect the bottom line it is blind to the environmental or community consequences due to their business. Its leaders can live like Solomon all the while falsifying accounting eventually bankrupting the company leaving thousands without their pension or promised equity. It is this lust for greed and power that we as Christians must stand against. The time has come to call for action, to call for “compassionate capitalism.”

Some would say, “What does love or compassion have to do with it?”. They would insist that compassionate capitalism is an oxymoron, that capitalism is built on survival of the fittest and that there is no room for compassion. Yes, and once upon a time there were noblemen and the rest were serfs. Like that system was destroyed by the rank and file, if capitalism doesn’t start to care, it too will be overthrown. Already on the horizon are groundbreaking books like, The Divine Right of Capital that promotes the dethroning of corporate aristocracy for what Marjorie Kelly calls Economic Democracy; or Bill Jensen’s book, Work 2.0, which calls for new labor contracts and the realignment of corporate assets.

The truth is capitalism isn’t compassionate. People are. Perhaps we are better off calling for “compassionate capitalists.”. Patricia Panchak, EditornChief, of Industry Week pointed out in her March 2002 editorial, Capitalism At A Crossroad?, that according to a 2000 Business Week/Harris poll, when people were give a choice between the two phrases that they supported more strongly: “Corporations should have only one purpose to make the most profit for their shareholders and pursuit of that goal will be best for America in the long run.” or “Corporations should have more than one purpose. They also owe something to their workers and the communities in which they operate, and they should sometimes sacrifice some profit for the sake of making things better for their workers and communities.” 95% percent of those surveyed choose the latter statement. They wanted a more caring corporation. Compassion is ultimately in the hands of those who profit from the system, not the system itself. As long as current financial statements dictate, there will be no change. People must rewrite the rules. Compassion is taking the high road, recognizing that it is God who has blessed us and choosing to give back in ways that honor Him.

Today there are great disparities among communities. Thirty minutes, perhaps an hour away from most of our homes, there is a different world. Not the people. They are so much like you and me. But the communities are broken down; they are without hope and have great need. In the Old Testament when Jerusalem was in ruins, Nehemiah heard the call of God to do something about it. In the same way, God calls to us today. He is calling for the collaboration of compassionate capitalists to rebuild our torn down communities. What will be our response?

 

Are The Poor In America Really Poor?

There is a myth that makes it hard to concentrate on the needs of those who are suffering in this country. It is the myth that the poor in this country are not really poor. It is due to a comparison of those suffering in this country with those in third world countries. Whenever I speak on the needs of the poor in this country, inevitably someone will bring up the needs of those overseas.

I took a group of young people from a large Chicago suburban church on a mission trip to Chicago’s inner-city. The Minister of Missions let me know that he was on the trip reluctantly because he had serious doubts of the value of our trip. He felt that there was so much more need overseas. He gave me the impression that the trip was a waste of time. I shared that I did not see it as an “either/or” situation. There are obvious needs overseas, but there are needs here too. We were simply responding to those in need close to home and, hopefully, that this trip would raise awareness to the needs of those in other countries as well.
 

How many times have we heard the expression, “The poorest person in this country is rich compared to those living in third world countries”. But is this true? Is the poorest in this country far better off than those in third world countries? Now please, I have seen the pictures, I have seen the bloated stomachs of children. I have next to me, only three feet away, a picture of an Ethiopian Famine Camp taken in 1988. I took it with me when I left World Relief as a constant reminder of those suffering around the world. Not for one second would I try to minimize the need of those starving refugees around the world. But I have also been in cities and rural areas in this country where homeless live in rubble eating rats, garbage and whatever food is given to them at homeless shelters. I have been in neighborhoods where mothers were not able to put food on the table for days at a time and where children are living in the streets digging in garbage cans for something to eat. 
 

Viv Grigg has studied poverty around the world. In his book, Cry of the Urban Poor,  he refers to “slums of hope” and “slums of despair”. You cannot judge poverty just by the physical element of food, water and shelter. Hope and despair are two important factors that must be counted too. Many of the third world poor have come to their slums, as bad as they are, thankful for a chance to have a meager paying job and very small plot of land to put their makeshift shack on. Mr. Grigg calls these slums of hope. They have hope that their opportunity will grow and their future children will prosper because of this chance that they have. Vig Grigg writes:
 
 The poor will not go back. [to the rural areas from which they came – my comment] This indicates how they feel about their lives in the city. They are hooked. For all of the deprivations and depravity, they are better off. They have hope. They have access to health and education for their children. They are city dwellers, urbanites who no longer fit back in the home town. They have come from being hopeless, landless farm laborers. They are moving into the city of gold. The momentary problems of the slums can be suffered for such a glorious dream – even for a generation or two.
 
 In comparison, many in this country believe that there is no hope of change. They eke out their existence feeling that it will never get better. This is what Mr. Grigg refers to as slums of despair. Viv Grigg has created the chart, Levels of Urban Poverty, that helps us compare poverty in different countries. He suggests that the complexities in the nature of poverty make it hard to differentiate between poverty in various cities and cultures. He created four catergories: Housing; Unemployment; Social problems; and Malnutrition. He then took each catergory and created five degrees of severity. If we took a family in Calcutta that has a small business, is socially stable, living in a poor shack and 1st degree malnutrition and compared him to a person in Chicago that is homeless, no source of income, addicted to crack, but eats better because of our food in America – we could be tempted to say that the person in Chicago is poorer and in more despair.

The point is this. We need to be helping the poor around the world. But let us not forget that there are those not that far from our front door that need help. There are the “really poor” in America.