Today is Blog Action Day and this year the topic is poverty.  If you have a blog I want to encourage you to get involved.

Scripture is loaded with admonitions to help those who are in need.  James is particularly pointed:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead, (James 2:14-17, ESV).

I want to pick on my fellow evangelicals.  Far too often we focus so much on sharing the gospel that we neglect meeting physical needs.  Now hear me out.  I’m an evangelist.  I am a committed disciplemaker.  I have also seen working with high-risk youth time and time again conservative evangelicals who are excited about chaplaincy ministries, but lose that enthusiasm when it comes to mentoring since it doesn’t focus on evangelism (though that can be a byproduct).

People often times need to have felt needs (clothing, hunger, need for adult relationships) before they will respond to unfelt needs (salvation).  I am not lifting up one over the other, but rather a “both and” circumstance.  Evangelism without social justice in circumstances where it is warranted seems cold and cruel.  Social justice without evangelism is humanistic and lacks power.

Jesus did not divorce social justice from the Great Commission.  He was quite clear that as followers of Christ we are to reach out to “the least of these.”

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me,'” (Matthew 25:31-40, ESV).

What can we do?  Here are some resources you can check out.  I also have some ideas.

  • In the side bar of my main page I have a widget for Compassion International.  You can sponsor a child for as little as $32 a month.
  • With World Vision you can sponsor a child for $30 a month, sponsor a “Hope Child” (a child affected by the AIDS pandemic) for $35/month, or even sponsor a family for $40/month.
  • With Kiva you can make loans to a specific entrepreneur in the developing world which will empower them to lift themselves out of poverty.
  • Help provide clean water for African villages through Blood Water Mission.
  • If you are in Iowa, in particular in the Des Moines area, you can lend a hand to Hope Ministries which reaches out to the homeless in Des Moines.
  • There is also Kids Against Hunger which helps with short term hunger needs.  Your area may have a local branch where you can actually go and help package the food as well.

While I don’t agree with everything Rob Bell teaches I do find this video inspirational in getting us to think about how blessed we are as a nation and how little it would really take to make an impact.  Let’s do something about this.


This post is part of Blog Action Day 08 – Poverty

6 comments
  1. Shane, I appreciate your insights and obvious comitment to helping overcome poverty. I am deeply appreciative of the work you do day in and day out with the trouble youth of our community. But here is a rub… I believe Matthew 25 is not simply a call for believers to practice charity but a clarion call to the “nations” to create a political agenda for each country that puts the “least of these” first. I know we disagree about which Presidential campaign best meets the Matthew 25 criteria. And good people of faith will disagree about how to overcome poverty. How do you personally interpret Matthew 25 and the Reagan Republican economic theories?

  2. Shane, I appreciate your insights and obvious comitment to helping overcome poverty. I am deeply appreciative of the work you do day in and day out with the trouble youth of our community. But here is a rub… I believe Matthew 25 is not simply a call for believers to practice charity but a clarion call to the “nations” to create a political agenda for each country that puts the “least of these” first. I know we disagree about which Presidential campaign best meets the Matthew 25 criteria. And good people of faith will disagree about how to overcome poverty. How do you personally interpret Matthew 25 and the Reagan Republican economic theories?

  3. Ditto what Cheryl said about being appreciative of the work you do day in and day out with troubled youth Shane.

    Mostly I look for ways to make a difference with local our homeless shelter or our food pantry (I blogged about ours today).

    Globally I look for missionaries who minister in practical way to help poor folks – especially kids.

    I am kind-of leery of giving to large organizations if I do not have a personal contact of some sort.

  4. Ditto what Cheryl said about being appreciative of the work you do day in and day out with troubled youth Shane.

    Mostly I look for ways to make a difference with local our homeless shelter or our food pantry (I blogged about ours today).

    Globally I look for missionaries who minister in practical way to help poor folks – especially kids.

    I am kind-of leery of giving to large organizations if I do not have a personal contact of some sort.

  5. @Cheryl – Thanks for your comment!
    Looking at Matthew 25 I guess I would have to disagree. V. 32 says all of the nations will appear before him, but He is judging individuals – “and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

    Regarding Reagan Republican economic theories, in principal, I don’t see inconsistency. 1. Lower taxes and 2. smaller government I believe stimulates the economy for everybody. Jobs are created when you don’t punish people for productivity. I also believe that you typically see more charitable giving in places where taxes are lower. I’d like to see some studies on charitable giving during times when the tax rate is higher compared to when they were lower. Also compare the U.S. per capita giving compared to say E.U. countries where taxes are much, much higher.

    I feel that community & faith-based organizations provide care for the poor better than government welfare does. Welfare needs to be reformed when it punishes those who do end up working. People need to be empowered, not just given a handout.

    I address this a little more in depth in my “The Christian Right and the Poor” post – http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/?p=1580.

    @Bob – gracias for your encouragement. People do need to look at ways to make an impact locally as well. I understand your position on large organizations – I mention World Vision and Compassion International because they both have excellent track records, but there are a lot of good options.

  6. @Cheryl – Thanks for your comment!
    Looking at Matthew 25 I guess I would have to disagree. V. 32 says all of the nations will appear before him, but He is judging individuals – “and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

    Regarding Reagan Republican economic theories, in principal, I don’t see inconsistency. 1. Lower taxes and 2. smaller government I believe stimulates the economy for everybody. Jobs are created when you don’t punish people for productivity. I also believe that you typically see more charitable giving in places where taxes are lower. I’d like to see some studies on charitable giving during times when the tax rate is higher compared to when they were lower. Also compare the U.S. per capita giving compared to say E.U. countries where taxes are much, much higher.

    I feel that community & faith-based organizations provide care for the poor better than government welfare does. Welfare needs to be reformed when it punishes those who do end up working. People need to be empowered, not just given a handout.

    I address this a little more in depth in my “The Christian Right and the Poor” post – http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/?p=1580.

    @Bob – gracias for your encouragement. People do need to look at ways to make an impact locally as well. I understand your position on large organizations – I mention World Vision and Compassion International because they both have excellent track records, but there are a lot of good options.

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