I always thought someone else would do it. It wasn’t my “calling”. The more religious, churchy people will take care of it.
I think as long as I kept a blind eye to it, then my conscious felt clean and in the clear. That was until “IT” became a reality in the form of a face. A name. A being whom God created.
This “IT” that I’m referring to is giving to the poor, caring for the orphans, and sacrificing my comforts for others’ needs. You may stop reading at this point, because you might have the same attitude as I used to.
“Oh, they did it to themselves. They made a series of wrong choices and deserve to be homeless.”
“I do enough already. I donate my old clothes to Goodwill and send in canned goods to the food drive.”
“I’m the poor! I work my fingers to the bone and can barely make ends meet. Don’t tell me I need to give to the poor and take care of orphans. My hard work has gotten me where I am and it’s still not enough.”
….or…. “This topic makes me really uncomfortable. I’d rather not even think about it because it could lead me to actually feeling something for these people. And feeling something may cause me to change the way I live my life.” (gasp….how dare anyone suggest I change my lifestyle)
Now, now. Calm down;) I encourage you to stay with me for a little longer to hear what God has to say to your heart like he’s been saying to mine.
Isaiah 1:16-20 says, “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’ For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
LEARN TO DO RIGHT. We are not born into the world knowing how to do the right thing at all times. We are born sinners. We are born selfish. We are born without the Spirit of God in us. It takes knowledge from reading God’s Word and having Christ in our heart to learn what is right. It takes a transformation of the heart to desire righteous actions. As believers of Christ, we don’t do the “right thing” in order to become more “Christianly” and earn our salvation through our works. BUT….as we grow in our relationship with Christ, a direct result and overflow from a transformed heart WILL BE doing the “right thing” and the good works he has already prepared for us to do.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (The Message) tells us, “It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”
You need to know NOW what I didn’t know before. I thought my Christian religion was summed up in what I didn’t do.
Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. Don’t do drugs. Don’t wear immodest clothes. Don’t have sex before marriage. Don’t cuss. Don’t be seen with the wrong people. Don’t forget to do your devotion. Don’t miss church. Don’t let anyone know you are a real person, with real sin, and real struggles.
That’s not Christianity. It’s sad to say it took me up until 4 years ago to figure that out. I went through all of middle school, high school, college, and half of my marriage living out my Christianity that way. I was just a listener of the word, not a doer. What God wants us to know is that being followers of Christ means we are commanded to ACT. LIKE. CHRIST.
ACT. DO. GO. GIVE. LOVE. AND LOVE. AND LOVE SOME MORE.
James 1:22-27 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
If we want our “religion” to be accepted by God as pure and faultless, God tells us to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by world. Really??!!! Of all the commands he could give, the first one is to look after orphans and widows???!!! Maybe he’s not talking to us Americans in the 21st century. Maybe how that should translate in today’s Christianity is this:
Work so hard at achieving your American dream, because work is valuable and honorable, and build up for yourself your Heaven here on Earth so you can appear to others as important and worthy. God wants to give you the desires of your heart for only your benefit alone.
(end of sarcasm)
Does God bless us with finances, homes, clothes, cars, and food because he wants us to achieve our American Dream? No, I believe he gives us blessings and provisions so we can share and give it away to those in need. Why hoard all of our goods for ourselves when we can’t take them with us?
American Christians’ most dangerous blind side is worshipping our material treasures while disregarding the command to give ourselves away and care for the orphans and widows.
Jesus came for the poor, the oppressed, the prisoners, the hopeless, and the lonely.
In Luke 4:18, Jesus said “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me, to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,”
He didn’t come to bless us with the 4 bedroom, 3 bath, 2 car garage where we can park our SUV’s in which we can drive our well-fed children to private school. If we are to be LIKE CHRIST, we MUST see beyond our bubble. We MUST look around us, beside us, past us. We MUST look for opportunities to give, share, and love.
Matthew 25:34-40 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ “
Proverbs 28:27 “If you give to the poor, your needs will be supplied! But a curse upon those who close their eyes to poverty.”
This is what God has been stirring in my heart since late this summer. He’s shown me his compassion and great love he not only has for us, but even more the poor. He values the orphans and widows and commands us to do the same. My heart has been broken and then remolded into a different shape, one that longs to care for others in need. Others in my community and others across the world who live on less than $2 a day.
TAKING ACTION WITH HELP ONE NOW
After hearing Jen Hatmaker speak in person about an orphan prevention organization called Help One Now (more about them in the next post), I took action. I reached out to them through their Instagram account and website. After a series of email exchanges with one of their representatives, Payton Junkin, I decided to direct my focus on a community of orphans in Pestel, Haiti who is new to the Help One Now organization. This is a small, rural community where a local pastor named Pastor Gaeton has personally taken in 10-12 double orphaned children ranging in ages from 3-9 years of age. He provides their daily needs from food, shelter, and clothes to beds (two kids to a twin bed) and education. Along with a shelter care taker, they both are funding the children’s needs primarily out of pocket. My husband and I are currently monthly sponsors to two of the children in Pestel. They need more sponsors to help expand with bunk beds for the children, help to build a school, and develop substantial agriculture.
In my next post coming soon, I will explain more about who Help One Now is, what their mission is, and how you can help this organization in various ways. In the mean time, feel free to click HERE to learn more.
(Matthew 9:36, 38 NIV) “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”