Category Archives: hunger

More Than Caring

More Than Caring“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”

James 2:15-16

 

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own life that we forget about those all around us who are in need. We can’t save the whole world, so we don’t try to save just one. “Someone else will help”, we think as we walk away. But James says that we have to do more than just “care” about the poor, we need to help. In his book, “Irresistible Revolution”, Shane Claiborne shares about a survey he took of American Christians. He found that 80% believed that Jesus spent time with the poor. When asked if they spent any time with the poor, only 20% of the same group said, “yes.” Shane concluded, “We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what He did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours.” James talks about our apathy toward the poor in this way, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”  It is not good enough to care about the poor. If we follow Christ we need to do something.

 

 We have to ask ourselves, “Where are we making a difference?” Is it in the entertainment industry? Is it in business ethics? Is it in the societies’ views on sex and marriage? Is it in the justice system? But, you say, “That is the world’s system.” That’s my point! When did we abdicate the decisions on morality, love and justice to the world? When did we leave the room? Why isn’t our corporate witness making a difference? Why isn’t the love of  God in His people making a bigger difference in the world? It can, if we choose to live according to His word.

Over and over again in the Old Testament we read about God’s judgment on His people for turning their back on poverty and injustice. God was appalled at the fact that the poor were ignored. In his classic book, “Visioneering”, Andy Stanley shares what he felt was Nehemiah’s compelling reason for casting his vision of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Andy points out that Nehemiah told the people, “Come let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” Why rebuild the walls? Because the torn down walls were a disgrace to God and His people. One translation uses the word “reproach”. The torn down walls, the disgraced city was a disgrace to anyone who called themselves a Jew and brought reproach to God in front of all the nations. We need to see that the American Suburban Church sitting with all its wealth and resources, with neighbors all around in utter poverty is the same reproach to God. Why? Because it is a gross misrepresentation of the love of God. As a result, the world does not see God or His church as a significant influence or reason for hope. Instead, our Government and corporations are seen as the savior of the solution to blighted communities. We need to glorify God by showing what His power through His people, people of all races working together, can do. Then maybe the world will join in on the song, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

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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?

Want to know how to use your business skills for ministry download a free copy of Compassionate Capitalist

 

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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

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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?
 

Are We Jesus?

We are called to make a difference, yet as a church we have to ask ourselves, “Where is the proof of our existence?” Is it in the entertainment industry? Is it in business ethics? Is it in the societies’ views on sex and marriage? Is it in the justice system? But, you say, “That is the world’s system.” That’s my point! When did we abdicate the decisions on morality, love and justice to the world? When did we leave the room? Why isn’t our corporate witness making a difference? Why isn’t the love of  God in His people making a bigger difference in the world? It can, if we choose to live according to His word.
 

Over and over again in the Old Testament we read about God’s judgment on His people for turning their back on poverty and injustice. God was appalled at the fact that the poor were ignored. In his classic book, Visioneering, Andy Stanley also uses the story of Nehemiah as the basis for his book. Pastor Stanley shares what he felt was Nehemiah’s compelling reason for casting his vision of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. What do you think the reason Nehemiah rebuilt the city was? Was it for protection from their enemies? That is certainly important but not compelling. Was it beautification? That is nice but not enough. Was it so they could reunite as a nation and become an economic power? While national unity and pride is important, Andy Stanley pointed out that Nehemiah had another compelling reason for rebuilding the walls. Nehemiah told the people, “Come let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” Why rebuild the walls? Because the torn down walls were a disgrace to God and His people. One translation uses the word reproach. They were a disgrace to anyone who called themselves a Jew and brought reproach to God in front of all the nations. 
 

We need to see that the American Suburban Church sitting with all its wealth and resources with neighbors all around in utter poverty is the same reproach to God. Why? Because it is a gross misrepresentation of the love of God. As a result, the world does not see God or His church as a significant influence or reason for hope. Instead, our Government and corporations are seen as the savior of the solution to blighted communities. We need to glorify God by showing what His power through His people, people of all races working together, can do. Then maybe the world will join in on the song, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”  
 

In their book “Calling” Frank Tillapaugh and Richard Hurst gave six reasons why the average person in the pew is not involved in ministry. The one reason that spoke to this issue was what they referred to as Church vs. Kingdom. Their opinion is that the Church has lost the sense of what the word Kingdom means. Jesus spoke of Church only twice. Instead, what Jesus spoke about over and over again was His Kingdom. We are called to make an impact beyond the four walls of our church. The Church is not just for us to worship in, it is not just for edifying the saints but just as importantly, to equip the members for ministry. And not just ministry to ourselves, but ministry that brings the good news of the kingdom to those in the larger community. We are called to live the love of God in mercy and justice in the Kingdom not just the Church. This is what Jesus did. In Matthew 9 we see a poignant view of Jesus and His love for the towns and villages He visited. Matthew writes:
  Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. (Emphasis added) When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.’

  Brennan Manning in his book “Signature of Jesus” uses a story to ask a critical question of you and me. He writes of five businessmen who take a train from Chicago to Milwaukee for a sales meeting. They promised their wives that they would be back that evening in time for dinner. The sales meeting went late so they had to hurry to catch the train in order to get home on time.

 As the salesmen raced through the terminal, one of them inadvertently kicked over a slender table on which rested a basket of apples. A ten-year-old boy was selling apples to pay for his books and clothes for school. With a sigh of relief, the five clambered aboard the train, but the last felt a twinge of compassion for the boy whose apple stand had been overturned.
 He asked one of the group to call his wife and tell her he would be a couple hours late. He returned to the terminal and later remarked that he was glad that he did. The ten-year-old was blind. The salesman saw the apples scattered all over the floor. As he gathered them up, he noticed that several were bruised or split. Reaching into his pocket, he said to the boy, ‘Here’s twenty dollars for the apples we damaged. I hope we didn’t spoil your day. God bless you.’
 As the salesman started to walk away, the blind boy called after him and asked,

‘Are you Jesus?’

  Let me recite the Biblical passage in Matthew 9 about Jesus one more time.

 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Are we Jesus?

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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?

You Can Make A Difference As A Social Entrepreneur

Social Entrepreneurs
 There is a phrase used more and more in business magazines. It is called “social entrepreneurs”. In the non-profit arena, it is used one way, and in the business world, there is another meaning. The non-profit use of the term “social entrepreneur” is where a charitable organization learns how to apply entrepreneurism to their core competencies and create an income stream that will help support their charitable agenda. For example, a thrift store not only provides jobs and job training, it also helps defray part of the cost of a job-training program. A homeless shelter in Chicago has started a landscaping business that gives the men training and a job. It also brings in enough money to pay for the training and supervision of the program. More and more social agencies are creating companies large enough to support their whole ministry without any significant need for donations.   
 The more traditional use of the term “social entrepreneurism” is from the business world. It is regarding an entrepreneur or a company that uses its skills, resources and network to do social good. The entrepreneur interested in social causes wants to use his or her entrepreneurial skills and knowledge to help a charity. It is more than giving money. Because of his or her business savvy, he or she wants to be more “hands on” by consulting with the organization, networking, donating non-cash gifts, endorsing the charity and sometimes involvement in the governance of the organization. The combination of large donations and business acumen is bringing refreshing results to charities across the nation.
 I have done this. It seems each year I do pro-bono work on Boards or in creating fund raising plans for organizations. I have helped organizations do visioning, thereby recharging their ability to raise funds. In community development, an entrepreneur’s opportunity to do pro-bono work is even larger. There is  opportunity to help create businesses, build enterprise zones, employ people, help educate others in business and entrepreneursism,  and help build housing developments. For a Christian entrepreneur who wants to help spread the gospel by meeting the critical needs of others, does it get any better than this? To me, there is nothing more exciting than using my entrepreneurial gifts to help a local church reach out to those in need in their own community. This is the love of Christ in action.
 This is where we want to see the church involved. We want churches to encourage and partner with those in their congregation that are business people, entrepreneurs, managers or company owners. This is a chance to collaborate with volunteers from the congregation and do something significant in distressed neighborhoods.  The church can help nurture this new breed of Christian “venture philanthropists”, encouraging them to leverage with their donations in new and exciting ways. This is what I call Social-Driven Capitalism.
 
Social-Driven Capitalism
 There are new ways of making charitable contributions that seem to be more of a win-win for those that own or manage corporations. I call this new philanthropy “social-driven capitalism”.

Charity Event Cause Marketing
 “Cause marketing” is different than traditional business philanthropy that gives donations and receives some press and recognition. In cause marketing, like traditional philanthropy, a business also gives a donation. However, with cause marketing, the company uses a fine tuned marketing campaign taking advantage of the market exposure and the extra emotional linkage with the consumer to move product sales. Sponsorship of events was the first form of cause marketing. Sponsoring a charitable event was a real way that business could give to an non- profit organization and receive some marketing exposure in return. This took its cue from secular sponsorship where companies used marketing dollars to gain market exposure. The biggest example of this is NASCAR. The cars and driver uniforms are multicolored billboards of corporate sponsorship. Sporting events are very effective at using sponsorship as well. NIKE and Gatorade were companies that brought this sports sponsorship marketing to the forefront. 
  Today cause marketing has become a major form of fund raising for larger charities. Donations from companies can come in the form of a percent of the sales of the product, or the money given for a sponsorship at a fundraising event. Either way, the charity is getting a great donation and tremendous awareness of their organization. The business in return is marketing their product while building customer loyalty through the good will resulting from being seen as a philanthropist toward the cause.
 The organization that put “cause” promotional marketing and sponsorship in the charity world on the map was The Children’s Miracle Network. I was at World Relief doing a national cause-marketing project with coin banks in supermarkets, discount chains and convenient stores. I was able to see Children’s Miracle Network in action first hand as they approached the same stores I had coin banks in. In the years that followed, I witnessed the “cause marketing” industry grow into a moving force in philanthropy.
 Traditionally a cause-marketing “sponsor” would get good “press” and recognition. The grandfather of this approach is Jerry Lewis’s telethon. Children’s Miracle Network took it to the next level. They increased the “win” for the sponsoring company. They put together in-store campaigns with well coordinated advertising, point-of-purchase displays and couponing though newspaper circulars. This marketing combination would  dramatically move more product. As a result of increased sales it was easier and easier to find sponsors and stores that wanted to get involved. The Children’s Miracle Network model set a whole new standard in the industry. Today, rather than simply looking for charitable partners that can help them win over the affections of those who believe in the “cause”, sponsors want an increase in sales as a result of the campaign.

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Does your company do something to make a difference? Respond to this post and we will collect them and put them into a PDF booklet for everyone to learn from.

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Company-Based Cause Marketing
 Instead of looking for a charity-event or a cause-marketing campaign, some companies want to incorporate a cause into their company ethos. Perhaps the best known examples of a company using charitable causes as part of their marketing campaign are Ben and Jerry Ice Cream and The Body Shop. They were certainly among the first. Both companies let their customers know that part of the product sale would go to the causes that they were promoting. The difference between this and the Children’s Miracle Network is that the Children’s Miracle Network is perceived as being involved in an annual-event type of campaign, whereas Ben and Jerry and the Body Shop present their charitable causes all year long as part of their mission. So during Thanksgiving when customers bought their turkeys at the Children’s Miracle Network display in the front of a grocery store, part of the proceeds went to the CMN. However, anytime customers bought a hand lotion from the Body Shop, they were actually helping save the rainforest. There was no doubt in their mind.

For-Profit Companies for Charity (Venture Philanthropy)
 The next wave of charitable corporate giving has been popularized by Paul Newman and his “Newman’s Own” brand name products. Instead of a portion of sales going to the cause, the products were advertised as all of the profits going to charity! This is an example of a for-profit company that was created for a charitable reason. In the August 7, 2001 issue of USA Today there was an article called Ben & Jerry, Co-founder to Try ‘Venture Philanthropy’. The article featured three companies that were created to raise money for charitable causes. One was Newman’s Own. The article wrote:

 Actor Paul Newman was a pioneer of venture philanthropy. Newman’s Own, co-founded by Newman to peddle salad dressing, has grown into a food products behemoth.
 It also gives away its profits. The 19 year-old company, based in Westport, Conn., annually sells $100 million worth of popcorn, lemonade, ice cream and oil-and-vinegar dressing.
 It has donated $115 million for hunger relief, for medical research and to fund camps for seriously ill children.5
 
The USA Today article also featured Ben Cohen, of Ben and Jerry, getting involved in this same form of venture philanthropy. Ben Cohen’s goal is to buy companies in low-income neighborhoods. He then wants to raise wages and improve other employee benefits.
 In his first deal, Cohen used his Barred Rock Fund to buy Sun and Earth, a cleaning products maker, in partnership with a non-profit corporation. The article reported:

 The fund owns 80% of Sun and Earth with its partner. The remaining 20% was set aside for employees. Sun and Earth wages were raised as much as 23%. Employees will get company benefits for the first time. All profits will be used to buy other companies, which will be run the same way. Cohen also says that he is giving management advice.6
 
 Another company that the USA Today described was Pura Vida. John Sage, a former Microsoft executive, created Pura Vida, a coffee retail company in Seattle. Sage co-founded the company with a ministry helping poor children in Costa Rica where the coffee is exported.

 Like Cohen and other wealthy entrepreneurs, Sage, 40, wants to use capitalism for charitable good by leveraging his business skills. ‘I wasn’t content to sit on the sidelines and be a passive philanthropist,’ Sage says.

Pura Vida is Internet-based and has 17 employees and expects almost $1 million in revenue this year. All it’s profits will go to charity. So far it has given $200,000 to needy families in Costa Rica, a major coffee exporter, for food, clothing and medicine.7

This is an exciting new trend and one that we believe the church and its members should be involved. I have seen many sucessful Christian business people wonder what they could do with some of their profits. Some have worried whether riches would spoil their children, so they set up foundations that will help charities and allow their children to learn philanthropy. Though this has been very successful, I would like to see it raised to another level. Why not create a company for the Lord? Let the children participate by running it. This company could produce jobs in needy areas for those in the community, helping residents earn good living wages. Profits could be given back to community through its local schools, churches and agencies. Taxes could help build community infrastructure. Small businesses to support this new commerce would be an off shoot of this new local entrepreneurship. While the Christian entrepreneur helps with their company, the church could work in the community assisting social agencies, organizing construction and rehab projects, participating in mentoring programs and job training. There are sundry ways to help in the revitalization of the community.

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This was taken for our booklet Compassionate Capitalist. CLICK HERE for your free download.

Who Is My Neighbor? – Helping those in need

Nehemiah, going to work in Jerusalem over 1000 miles away, begs the question that the expert in the Jewish law asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” In the Biblical account found in Luke 10:25-37, an expert in the law asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. In reply Jesus asked him what the law said. The man quickly quoted the Old Testament:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

  Jesus told him that he was correct and that he should go and do it. But the person, no doubt being embarrassed, asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” This caused Jesus to respond with an amazing story of compassion. Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan.
 The road to Jericho was well known by Jesus and the people he talked to. Jericho was about sixteen miles or a five-hour walk from Jerusalem. It was at the bottom of the foothills, part of a water route of which Jerusalem was the center. Going down a mountainside meant that the trail would have switchbacks with plenty of places that thieves could ambush someone.  It was this road that Jesus used to illustrate a person being robbed and left to die.
 Jesus chose a Samaritan to be the person that met the hurt person’s need. A feud between Jews and Samaritans had been going on for centuries. It was the Samaritans that tried to stop the rebuilding of the Temple during Zerubbabel’s governorship and an army of Samaritans that likewise tried to stop Nehemiah from rebuilding Jerusalem. When Jesus spoke this parable, centuries later, there was still friction between the Jews and Samaritans. In fact in Luke 9:51, just one chapter before Jesus tells the parable, the Samaritans did not welcome Jesus to their village. Jesus sent people ahead to get things ready for Him but the passage says:

The people there did not welcome him there, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord do you want us to call fire down from Heaven to destroy them?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them and they went to another village.

  What then is our conclusion? If Jesus was deliberate in answering the question from the expert of the Law, could it be that Jesus was saying that even four or five hours away, if I come across someone in need, and even if that person is someone who has a different background than I do, that he or she is my neighbor?
 What would Jesus say to those of us from local churches that have resources and yet only forty-five minutes away from our pews, there are neighboring congregations with many needs? Perhaps in that location the people are different ethnically, perhaps the way the people worship is a little different than the way we do. Jesus is saying that this should not matter. We are called by God to help those in need, just as much as Nehemiah was called to help Jerusalem; just as much as the compassionate Samaritan felt called to assist one ambushed on the road to Jericho.
 Jesus was dead earnest when in Luke 10:36-37, He asked the expert in the law:

 Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?

The answer is convicting:

 The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’

  Jesus’ response is a mandate that we too must hear. Jesus said:

  Go and do likewise.

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