Back in 2006 and 2007 I made numerous trips to a small Christian mission located on the United States side of the Rio Grande River in far southern Texas. Twice I rented a truck to take food, clothing and anything else I could find down to their warehouse to be distributed to pastors from Mexico who would come weekly to get spiritually helped and pick up supplies for the children they took care of.
No one knew how many orphans there were in the area, but the number was staggering. I was deeply moved by the commitment of both the Christian missionaries on the Texas side of the river as well as the Christian pastors on the Mexican side as they together sought to fulfill the instructions found throughout the Bible regarding care for orphans, widows and aliens (people without a country).
Another place I frequented and supported the best I could was in Tucson, Arizona. This much larger group did everything from provide free meals one night per week at a park to having the one and only 100% non-government or denominationally funded home in the state for orphans. This home was available only through the gifts of loving people who wanted to help those who could not help themselves.
In my travels, I found other small groups scattered around the United States struggling to find the resources to continue helping people fight their addictions, recover from abuse, fight to stay alive after falling through the cracks of various government welfare systems, as well as orphans, widows, struggling senior citizens, physically disabled, mentally challenged and throngs of people displaced by hurricanes, tornadoes and other physical disasters.
The more I became aware of these groups and the work they were doing, the deeper the pain in my heart became as I looked around at Christians who turned a deaf ear and blind eye to the plight of those who were poor, disabled, troubled or homeless. By August of 2007 the frustration inside of me at being unable to move Christians to be charitable was destroying me on the inside.
Time and again I would invest what was left of my own money and my time trying to convince an individual Christian, a church or someone with influence to help those helping others. Every time I was rejected and told these people should take care of themselves. Many of these people were wealthy or at least had access to valuable resources that would have genuinely helped others. Almost without exception these people rejected the idea they should help anyone other than themselves, their family and perhaps their local church.
As I watch the unfolding crisis on the southern border of the United States I am both conflicted and moved with compassion. Much of what is happening is politically motivated and therefore has nothing to do with God. But, among the crowds of people trying desperately to get to the land of the free , are children who have nowhere else to go and no one to care for them. The question I am left to ponder is what the Christian response to what is happening should be (as opposed to the political response).
I dismantled and buried the charity I used to coordinate years ago. I did not have the financial means or the heart to continue doing what I was trying to do. But, I still remain concerned and deeply moved by the plight of especially young children who have no parents or guardian to watch over them as they seek refuge in the United States. I would hope that all of us who desire to fulfill the instructions in the Word of God to care for those whom God says to help will pray and keep our hearts open to anything God puts on them to do. Thank you.
I dont believe I have a say on this issue because I am not affected by this issue. But then I realise that many christians in your country refuse to help because of the very fact that they may indeed be affected if they choose to listen to the biblical response rather than the political response.
[quote]The question I am left to ponder is what the Christian response to what is happening should be (as opposed to the political response).[/quote] I am reminded of God reminding His people to welcome the stranger for the Hebrew nation was once a stranger in Egypt. As were Joseph, Mary and Jesus.
Yet I think many good Christians, including some who frequent cb and fb would tell me to mind my own business over this.
Your blog shows yet again the nature of your heart. May God give my son a heart such as yours.
I remember the years I spent doing mission outreach to the Native Americans and how impoverished they are (even more than most in mexico) and it was always hard.
The recent flood of children into the state of California is going to be hard, especially financially given how overspending the state already is, and all I can think is the bigger financial hole that the State will have to face over the next 30 years.
[quote]The question I am left to ponder is what the Christian response to what is happening should be[/quote]
Well, there you have it Kirk... it is our responsibility to take care of those who are unable to take care of themselves.
I would also throw out the question:
Can a church (which is most of them across american right now) that can hardly afford to pay its own clergy because of lack of attendance and/or lack of giving, really be putting themselves in a position of "do we pay the pastor, or feed the poor on the weekend?"
Lack of giving within the Church in America is certainly a problem. As John points out, there are many small churches that really struggle to even try to provide any sort of salary for their pastor. When I say small, I am talking about congregations of less than 50 people (including children) who regularly attend. I spent most of my life in such congregations and I am only too well acquainted with that sort of situation. Unfortunately, there are many churches that would struggle a lot less if people quit arguing about tithes and offerings and simply gave. It is estimated that Christians in America give churches less than 2.5% of their income annually. It is small wonder that so many churches struggle to pay their bills and care for their pastors.
You and I both know that when we open up our hands and give with a cheerful heart as God directs, amazing things happen. Giving is not merely beneficial to the recipient, it impacts the giver as well as any observers. It is so critical and yet it is so often criticized or ignored.
What would happen if every single Christian, not just in America but world-wide would begin to give as God instructs them to give? We cannot be responsible for the action of others but we can be responsible for our own.
Another point I would like to make is that historically, many churches have attempted to fund their own projects. While there is nothing wrong with that and it is certainly better than nothing, is it the most effective thing to do? I think there is a better way.
I attend a large church. When I started to go there, approximately 900 people attended. I was rather surprised at first to discover that they did not run a food shelf, soup kitchen, etc. I would have expected that. Instead what they did was they partnered with existing ministries and pour their resources (both financial and human) into those ministries to enable them to become bigger and better, serving more people. My mother's inner-city church which is less than 50 people did the same thing. They partnered with other small churches in their neighborhood, pooled their resources and offered them to an established charity. They take turns volunteering in addition to monetary donations.