I’ve spent much of the past twenty years working to ensure that everyone in the community has access to food. This work has taken a lot of different forms. I’ve worked with churches, political lobbying organizations, non-profits and food pantries. Each of them has taught me something essential about care for those living in poverty in our community.
One of the things I have gradually come to recognize is that in many cases, material poverty can result in another dangerous form of deprivation: a poverty of identity. In our neighbor’s experience of poverty, the message that they are without value has been reinforced in so many ways, that people eventually begin to believe it of themselves. This tragic loss of identity is terrible to witness.
This is one of the reasons that Hope Clinic has adopted a philosophy of “first fruits.” What this means is that in all of our programs we aim to give the very best, not someone else’s left-overs. We work to keep our clinics clean, our care professional and our pantry shelves stocked with high quality, brand-name products. We believe that each small action we take which communicates someone’s intrinsic value can compound over time. These small acts of love eventually result in the development of an identity more in line with how God sees each person.
“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to those in need honors God.”
We believe that everyone has been created in the image of God and is therefore deserving of the very best. Every person is sacred and is loved by God. In a world that so often communicates that we are unlovable, never underestimate the power of small acts that give people dignity and help them see themselves from God’s perspective.
Questions for Today
- Have you ever experienced small acts of love that helped you remember that you had dignity?
- What is one way that you can treat others with dignity?
Lent Action Guide
This is an entry in my Lent Action Guide which will be featured all Advent long.
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