Jesus is the one who gives us forgiveness, salvation and eternal life. As we respond to the richness of his gifts with a desire to share them with others, there are several things we can do to help the poor:
- pray, pray, pray – Pray for the poor in your personal devotions, your family devotions and, if you have an opportunity to suggest prayer petitions, in the divine service as well.
- personal lifestyle changes – intentionally turning away from the idolatry of consumerism (“buy this and you will live”), being a good steward of all that God has entrusted to you and living a frugal lifestyle so that you will be able to generously share with those in need. This may include making different choices about what you buy, like choosing to buy products from companies that pay the farmers a fair price for their product (ie. Fair Trade products).
- support Christian organizations that help the poor – There are some agencies such as Canadian Lutheran World Relief, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Compassion Canada, and World Vision Canada and others that are very clear in their Christian witness as they serve to improve the lives of poor people here and abroad. But it is important to check this out. For example, Habitat for Humanity was started by Christians wanting to help those with sub-standard housing, but this organization now identifies itself as “faith-based” instead of Christian.
- get involved with the social ministry efforts of your church – Find out what your church is already doing to help the less fortunate of your community and support it with your time, talent and treasure. Or if you see a need in your community that is not being met, approach the leadership of your church with a proposal to start something new.
- grow extra food – and donate it to your local food bank or, if you are a grain farmer, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
- the New Monasticism – It is not for everyone, but Christian individuals, couples and families are intentionally living in community with one another–in one house or individual houses close together–in an under-resourced neighbourhood, praying together, sharing expenses and working together to be a blessing to their neighbours. This may include offering short-term accommodation for a homeless person, growing food for the community in a back or front-yard garden, being a house of prayer and engaging their neighbours in spiritual conversations about this God who loves them so much.
- the New Friars – Again this is not for everyone, but some individuals have chosen to live with the poor in some of the most destitute neighbourhoods in the world. Living in such conditions, they become personally aware of the needs of their poor neighbours and they do what they can to change things for the better in Jesus name.
- other ways of helping the poor – There are numerous other ways of reaching out to the poor with the love of Jesus. To find out what might be most effective in your situation, doing the following things may be helpful:
- pray – a lot
- connect – with the poor
- educate – yourself regarding what the poor need and what you can do
- partner – with other like-minded people
- give – some of the resources that God has given you to help meet that need
- share Jesus– when opportunities arise, share about your Motivation for helping.