hands_large-12It is so easy for evangelicals to overlook meeting physical needs when our focus is (rightly) the Gospel.  But James warns us to not give up one for the other.

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 2:15-17, ESV).

Jesus also gave a very poignant warning…

“The the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was thirsty and you gave me a 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 a drink?  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: 34-40, ESV).

Then we know the flip side came those who were being judged who neglected ministry and service to the needy… the sheep separated from the goats.  Mercy to the poor does not save us, but it is fruit of our salvation.  It isn’t “the Gospel” as we have heard some say, but it is an implication of the Gospel.

And it isn’t optional.  So since this is something we all should be involved with I saw that  Bruce Wydick, a professor of economics at the University of San Francisco wrote a helpful article in Christianity Todaylisting the 10 most popular strategies for helping the poor.  He had 16 different economists rate each strategy on a scale of 0 to 10 in terms of impact and cost effectiveness per donated dollar.  He ranked them in order of greatest estimated impact:

  1. Get clean water to rural villages. (Rating 8.3)
  2. Fund de-worming treatments for children (Rating 7.8)
  3. Provide mosquito nets. (Rating 7.3)
  4. Sponsor a child. (Rating 6.9)
  5. Give wood-burning stoves. (Rating 6.0)
  6. Give a microfinance loan. (Rating 4.2)
  7. Fund reparative surgeries (Rating 3.9)
  8. Donate a farm animal. (Rating: 3.8)
  9. Drink fair-trade coffee. (Rating 1.9)
  10. Give a kid a laptop. (Rating 1.8)

Be sure to read the whole article as he lists faith-based organizations that operate with each strategy.  Wydick also offers some suggestions when deciding on an organization to contribute to.

Good stuff.

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