“Blessed is the one who considers the poor.”
(At the end of this article, I will enumerate specific ways that you can help us minister to Katrina and Rita victims, but first I want to share some of our rationale.)
Faith without works is dead. We all know that. So what do “works” look like? What is God looking for? The all-too-typical American attitude seems to be that the mere privilege to be an American (or an alien on American soil) is benevolence enough. We are the land of the self-made man. Anyone with a good work ethic, we say, can pull himself up by his own bootstraps. There may be an element of truth to this assumption in this God-blessed land of ours, but it flatly contradicts the Biblical teaching the some people are poor (and others rich) by decree–divine decree.
Many years ago when the sons of God gathered around the Throne of the Holy Eternal One for conference, God Himself (Who knows all hearts and whose standard of righteousness is infinitely higher than contemporary conservative Christianity), boasted to Satan of Job. Job was rich; rich by decree. “There is none like him,” said the Holy One, “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and hates evil” (Job 1:8). From His angle in Heaven, God can see what no other can see, with unfailing clarity. He wasn’t mistaken about Job.
But what did this blameless and upright man (the man with no equal on Earth) look like to his contemporaries? Job answers the question:
I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him. The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy…. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know…. If I have withheld anything that the poor desired, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel alone, and the fatherless has not eaten of it…if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing, or the needy without covering, if his body has not blessed me, and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep, if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, because I saw my help in the gate, then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder, and let my arm be broken from its socket. For I was in terror of calamity from God, and I could not have faced his majesty.
Bluntly put, those who fear the Lord help the poor. This is true religion, according to James. And He was divinely inspired. James is in the New Testament era too, so we can’t get off the hook by saying that it is something other than true gospel work. That Apostle rhetorically wonders what good our faith is if we give a “spiritual” message (“Go in peace”) and no “physical” help (“without giving them the things needed for the body”). “What good is it?” he demands rhetorically. If we were to answer, it would have to be: “It is not any good, Sir.” Brother James has a way of making our pious segregation of the “spiritual” ministry from the “physical” ministry sound hollow, if not outright pharisaical.
And James’ was not an isolated teaching. He was not the only one “fanatical, feel-good, liberal” Apostle. The Lord of the Apostles set the standard high. He used Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the Macedonians as an example to illustrate, through their fundraising, His own personal strategy for helping poor down-and-outers like you and me. Paul said that the Macedonians gave beyond their means–pleading for the chance to do so!–and demonstrated grace, the grace of the Lord of Glory Himself. Jesus literally made himself poor that we might be made rich. In other words, the standard for helping the poor is making oneself poor. Or more palatably put: sacrificial giving. We can rightly claim to be helping the poor only when, in the fear of the Lord, we do it sacrificially. Christ-like help is, well, to help like Christ helped. He made himself poor that we might become rich. This theological truth is brought forth, by the way, in the context of promoting material donations (2 Corinthians 8). The point seems obvious.
Too many Americans think that the panacea for all problems is a not-too-painful monetary donation to a large charity. Before the ink is dry on the check, they have forgotten the crisis. But it is hard to forget a sacrificial gift. Then, at the point of a sacrifice, is when the biblical axiom kicks in: “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” That is when we become emotionally invested in the plight of the poor. When we can say as Job said, “Did I not weep for him whose day was hard? Was not my soul grieved for the needy?” (Job 30:25)–then, and only then, have we begun to be ministers to the poor. Only then can we read with peace and comfort: “Blessed is the one who considers the poor” (Psalm 41:1).
We at Morning Star are helping the poor. We are exhausting our resources. The rewards are already beginning to manifest themselves in our midst. Our greatest desire is that other churches and Christians would enjoy the spiritual invigoration and happy blessings that we are enjoying. We are not bragging. We have only two mites to give! Many of our readers are capable of giving more as one individual than our entire church has been able to give, but God knows how costly just “two mites” can be for any of us. Certainly, many of you could join us in a very personal contact with the needy folks in the Gulf states. That’s why we are making our efforts public. We’d like to rally our friends and supporters to join us in this fantastic ministry. People are getting saved, lives are being rebuilt, and the souls of God’s people everywhere are celebrating in New Testament giving. If you want to pitch in, take note of the following ways you could directly minister to the poor. Get emotionally involved. Consider seriously what “works” of your living faith look like. Wherever you give (whether our ministry or a likeminded cause), give sacrificially. It’s the Christian way. Thank you for considering the following:
OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP GLOBAL GRACE HELP OTHERS
Global Grace/the Scotts’ remaining needed support
In one Lord’s Day at Morning Star Baptist Church (Sunday, 10/2), we gave over $3100 to initiate the support of Jeremy and Anouk Scott. Several more thousands were promised. As has been mentioned before, the Scotts will be going to the wide open field of Lafayette, LA, to minister with BMM missionaries for the planting of a gospel-preaching church. The Scotts were slated to leave Rockford for Lafayette on Monday, 10/3, but their departure has had to be delayed in order to raise more support to cover their vehicle repairs and other initial expenses. Among other things, the Scotts will be
a. Surveying to find contacts for our friends like you to come, meet, and minister to personally.
b. Sowing the Gospel in the evacuee camps with Bible studies, literature distribution, and church-planting work.
c. Scheduling teams to come to the region to minister, arranging for their housing, etc.
d. Supplying needy people, allocating the supplies given by you and by us.
Ministry & moving trip expenses
Jennie and I are planning on spending a week in Louisiana to conduct several Bible studies a day among the evacuees and to bring back to Rockford a family of four. This young couple just recently trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls, with the guidance of BMM missionaries in the region. Their children are 2 years old and 8 months. The woman is expecting a third child in December. My wife and I hope to be able to help Jeremy and Anouk in their arrival and settling in; and we plan to meet this family, love them, meet their needs, play with their children, and bring them all the way back to Rockford, where Mark Garard has already begun the legwork for finding them a home. This trip will cost $1000. Because of the ages of the children we will need to lengthen the return trip. Patience, our own daughter, is going with us.
A relocation bus ticket
A Full Gospel preacher is wanting to take advantage of our hospitality to live and learn among us here at Morning Star Baptist Church. He has preached on the streets of major cities for years and is used to traveling by bus, so we are going to purchase a bus ticket for this man. The directors of the camp where this man is staying say that they are going to be sorry to see him leave. He is often volunteering his time and help to minister among his neighbors. We do not know what to expect, but we are not going to be slow to entertain strangers. He might be an angel!
We would like to distribute quality Christian literature. Not only Gospel tracts, but good books that speak of suffering and the sovereignty of God. We would also like to equip our missionaries with Bible study material.
There are items available for purchase and distribution in the region. We think that $15,000 is a modest start and a reasonable goal for what could be distributed by Global Grace over the next four months.
We would love for you to join us in serving God. If we can help you locate a contact, adopt a family, or comfort the brokenhearted, let us do it. We’re enjoying it.
Global Grace, Inc.
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