Thursday, September 21, 2006

Making A Difference

One of the great issues of our society is poverty. I know that in my community, we deal with many people who are homeless and struggling to make ends meet. This brings up many challenging situations, where people are asking for money, or food. I am always struggling with the question of how to help them. Do I give them money? Do I send them away empty handed? I know that God tells us to help those who are struggling, but is giving money away always the best answer. And I don't think that it is. Having been at Community Presbyterian Church in North Long Beach now for almost 8 years, I have experienced many of these kinds of people and situations. The first challenge is that I have very little money available to me to help. And while I know that when we choose to give, we shouldn't wonder what they will do with the money, but yet there is that sense of helping people use the money in helpful ways. So often I will take them to the store and buy them food, or drive with them to the gas station to get them gas. But the second challenge is that by just giving them money, or paying for what they need, it doesn't help them to become independent for themselves. Many of the people just go from church to church looking for a handout, never seeking to do anything for themselves. So in this matter, I often choose to find work for them to do so that they may earn the money. It may be vacuuming a room, or typing something up for the church. But by giving them some work, it helps them to feel like they've earned the money, not just been given a handout. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says: "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strenghten the entire earth..." The Lord is looking to you and me to strengthen people around us. There are so many ways to do this. I encourage you to look for a way today to help strengthen someone. Maybe it starts by you praying the prayer "God, use me." You will be surprised the difference you can make when you make yourself available to God. Let's join together to do this. Tell me what you think. Pastor Chris