4 Ways in Which I Help the Poor – Answering a Common Question

Before I plunge into today’s topic, I want to give a report that’s both sad and encouraging.

I’ve been blogging since 2008 and my recent post, Rick Warren’s Horrific Tragedy & the Sickening Response of Some Christians was the most viewed article that I’ve ever written.

The reason why this is sad is because of what I felt forced to write in that post. I was once again addressing the sickening behavior of “Christians” who eat their own. That would include the act of judging, misrepresenting, and even lying about their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

The encouraging part is that more and more evangelical Christians are fed up with the ugly behavior of their “professing” Christian friends who don’t wince at attacking other followers of Jesus. And they are no longer standing for it. See my post Warning: The World is Watching How We Christians Treat One Another, another article on the topic that has had massive views.

God’s people are wising up to the tactics of online trolls. And they are more apt to recognize slander and completely dismiss those who spread it. People who stoop so low as to personally attack others in a public way lose credibility fast. In Matthew 18, Jesus gave very clear instructions on what to do if we have an issue or concern about a brother or sister in Christ.

People who ignore this text sin against God and against others. (The exception, of course, is if a crime has taken place. In those cases the authorities should be contacted immediately.)

To use a metaphor, the people who attacked Rick Warren online were given rope and they ended up hanging themselves. They cast a net for our brother, and God turned it around to catch them in it. (That image comes from the Psalms of David during the time when he was being unmercifully and unjustly attacked.)

Watchman Nee – who was no stranger to being a victim of lies, distortions, and personal attacks during his lifetime and afterward – once said, “If people trust us, there is no need to explain; if people do not trust is, there is no use in explaining.”

Nee was speaking out of firsthand experience. (Perhaps I’ll talk about that another time in a future post.)

Anyway, I’m delighted that my post about Rick Warren went viral and has received so many positive responses.

Let’s continue to lift our brother and his family up to the Lord. It’s going to take a very long time for healing to take place in their hearts.

Now on to the subject at hand.

As you know, over the last few years, I’ve shifted my focus from organic missional church to working with the poor and engaging in sharing the gospel with the lost. In that connection, I’ve had a number of people ask me how I specifically help the poor.

Here’s a question I’ve received more than once along with my answer.

Question: I know you’ve not been involved in organic church for a few years now to focus on the poor and write about Jesus studies (see, I pay attention to your blog). But can you share a little about what you do in helping the poor? I’m super interested in this.

My answer: Sure. There are four layers to it:

1) There are three adults who I help on a regular basis with financial support, emotional support, and spiritual support. They are all poor and unable to work for various reasons.

2) I volunteer at a nearby ministry regularly that has a soup kitchen, a thrift store, and a food pantry. They also help people apply for jobs and give guidance on how the homeless can find housing. Many of the people who work at this ministry are poor themselves and I’m developing relationships with them.

3) I carry with me an envelope that has money, a short note about Jesus and the gospel, and the phone numbers of two organizations that help the poor and the homeless locally. Whenever I come in contact with people who need help (often in parking lots, etc., asking for money), I give them one of the envelopes. Brennan Manning inspired this idea years ago, but I’ve upgraded it a bit. In line with that, I sometimes will buy a person a meal when they ask me for money on the street.

4) I support two global organizations that I like a lot: Bread for the World and Heifer International. You can look them up online. That’s a quick sketch. See also my post, Blessed Are the Undesirable.

If you are involved in helping the poor, can you add any other points to my list?

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About Frank Viola

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  • Joe Walsh

    Brother Frank. My wife Shannon and I have attempted to help the small homeless population in our area. My wife loves to crochet! So for the cold winter months in Oklahoma we give out hats that she makes. For the summer months we try to keep water with us, and hand out bags with small useful items. We fill them with a Bible, soft foods, toiletries, wet wipes, etc. We also carry Gospels of John and stick enough money for a meal.

    One thing we must always remember is homeless goes beyond those on the street. Shannon is currently making hats for cancer patients on chemotherapy. A simple gift as this for the temporary homeless, along with praying over the hat, can be an enormous help.

  • Joe Smith

    Frank, I appreciate your sharing this aspect of your faith walk. I have been having an ongoing discussion with God about these kinds of discipling opportunities (i.e., ministering to the poor). And while God has been winning the discussion (so to speak) I admit to a bit of grumbling in my heart. It’s like God is saying, “If you are not stretched or in an uncomfortable place (Mt 25:37-40) when ministering to me, then you have little need for the fruit of My Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-3).”

  • http://seedsinmyheart.blogspot.com Randi

    Thank you for giving practical examples! It really does help to see how fellow followers are putting into practice God’s love & care for others. Thnx!!


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