Today’s Proverb vitamin is a sobering one, taken from Proverbs 21:13
“Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor
Will himself call out and not be answered”
Throughout the Scriptures the heart of God is revealed for the poor and needy. Caring for the poor is considered true religion in God’s sight, it is an act of justice and worship. Often times our hearts are filled with good intentions, but we make gross oversights in putting those intentions to action.
The statistics of hunger in our own communities unveil the poverty crisis. In my state of California, there are 6,053,473 individuals who are considered food-insecure. To consider our national statistics, and those of starving people around the world, it is both devastating and overwhelming. (You can learn about your local state’s statistics at www.feedingamerica.org)
I have shared many opportunities shoulder to shoulder with youth; feeding and serving those in poverty in local cities throughout California. But, I will never forget the day my eyes opened to a new face of poverty. Working together with beautiful high school students in a soup kitchen; we were seating and greeting people as they came to Loaves and Fishes for a good hot lunch. These weren’t the homeless folks I had rubbed shoulders with before, instead they were working people. Construction workers, builders, many others who were in their work clothes, coming to eat for their lunch break. They are the working-poor. This is sobering to me. In fact, the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau states there are 21 million people who live in working-poor families.
The face of poverty includes the working poor, Senior Citizens, and children. Feeding America explains new findings on child hunger:
“Child hunger hampers a young person’s ability to learn and becomes more likely to suffer from poverty as an adult. Scientific evidence suggests that hungry children are less likely to become productive citizens.”
Wait, don’t turn the channel! Instead, consider how to turn your grief and good intentions into action. You can easily incorporate these actions into your lifestyle:
- Check out Food for the Hungry or Feeding America.org. Both organizations can lead you to local opportunities to assist the poor in your community.
- Make a Google Search for Food Bank’s in your city. Find out where the nearest food collection truck is in your neighborhood. If there isn’t one, ask what you can do to help them out.
- Put your heads together with your children, their school or church, and organize a food, coat, or blanket drive.
- Make Fair Trade purchases at your local store to help assist global poverty and keep those most vulnerable to selling themselves into the slave trade, working! Check out Free2Work.org for a smart phone app which helps you identify Fair Trade items in your stores.
- Make a simple plan to buy 5 extra cans of food or baby formula every time you grocery shop. Let your kids pick the food and help deliver it. This will instill a lifestyle for your children of serving others in need.
- Call your local soup kitchen and schedule a date with your family, Bible Study group, or friends. (Note: soup kitchen’s get a lot of volunteers during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season; so plan ahead or schedule your day for the new year).
You may be a little nervous at first, but I guarantee, it will be one of the best things you’ve done all year! Because you are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10), I know you will feel blessed in your practical act of worship. You may even hear your kids ask, “When are we going to do that again?”
Serving the poor is serving Jesus Himself. In the words of Jesus:
“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 25:35-40