Poverty is one of the great challenges of our world. Its sick cycle is much more complex than we often understand. Fingers are pointed. Conclusions are made. Blame is placed. But its wake doesn’t lie: The carnage of need is found on a kaleidoscope of faces, and in places you’d least expect. It’s in our city.
Unanswered need whittles away at hope, and humanity. People become who they never intended to be.
It’s easy to become numb to the needs of others around us. We become so preoccupied with ourselves that we no longer feel, or see need. When we are first exposed to raw poverty, it can be a haunting and overwhelming experience. The sights and smells of hopelessness aren’t quickly forgotten.
If people of faith take the words of Jesus seriously, then yes, we have a responsibility to serve the poor. The word “calling” might more aptly apply.
The full weight of the Scriptures is behind loving and serving the less fortunate. Selfless living is the authenticity of our faith. Jesus gave. We are called to give.
The brokenness around us provides us opportunities to do something with what we believe. Our families and our churches can be agents of solution and change. We can give and serve and love with what we have.
I love the words of Mother Teresa: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
— Brock Stamps, student pastor, Harvest Church of God, Anniston
Serving the poor is a grace
In the Old Testament, there are more than 150 scriptures where God clearly lays the foundation for how and why we are to serve the poor. Jesus follows in the New Testament, and leads by example in teaching his disciples about caring for widows, orphans and those who are disinherited.
When we serve the poor, we are following the precepts of Jesus, and God is pleased with us. When we show compassion and love for our fellow man, we are drawn closer to God.
We should not serve the poor for our own gratification, but we should serve because it is what God requires of us. Serving the poor is a grace that should be practiced by all who desire a closer relationship with God.
Material things may help to change the outward appearance of the poor, but it is what we give from the heart that reaches the heart of the poor that allows true giving to take place.
Remember, the poor are not just those who are in need of food, clothes and shelter; the poor are those who have lost hope and those who are emotionally and spiritually in need.
“Do nothing out of vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only at your own interests, but also to the interest of others.” (Philippians 2:3, New Living Translation).
— Rev. Alberta C. McCrory, ministerial staff, Gaines Chapel AME Church, Anniston