In ministry to the poor, I often feel lonely. I’m guessing others in this ministry feel the same way.
We come to Christ at some point in our lives, read the gospels, and draw the conclusion: I think Jesus wants me to care for the poor.
Then we show up in a poor neighborhood and immediately ask the question, “Where is everybody?”
More clearly put, the number of professing Christians is incongruent with the number of people reaching out to the poor and marginalized.
When this reality sinks in, I throw myself a pity party. Kind of like Elijah in the book of 1 Kings, when he believes himself to be God’s only remaining prophet.
And like Elijah’s moment of doubt, God gently reminds me that I’m not alone, not even close.
I spent this past weekend attending four separate gatherings of men and women who are giving their time and energy to the poor, marginalized, and outcast. One of these gatherings was quite large. It included a speech from a state governor who challenged his listeners to stop ignoring the most vulnerable populations of their communities and take action.
Of all the events I attended, however, my favorite was on Saturday. There was no government official, no local news crews. Just a couple dozen Christians having a conversation about how to love the poor.
While it doesn’t sound glamorous, it was powerful. Here’s why:
The meeting was a direct answer to prayer.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus travels around healing diseases and proclaiming the kingdom. He notices how the population around him is helpless and harassed, like sheep without a shepherd.
But he doesn’t retreat into a corner to feel sorry for himself, or try to do all the work on his own. Instead, he tells his few followers to plead with God to send more workers.
Years ago, when my co-workers and I felt isolated and forgotten, we begged God to send more workers.
The meeting this past Saturday was his response. Two dozen Christians representing six churches gathered in unity to see how God might use us to love the poor and marginalized of our community
And this gathering was only the beginning. God is up to something big. He is opening the eyes of his people. He’s bringing them together to have a conversation that revolves around one question:
How can we best love people?
That’s pretty cool.
My hope today is that you, too, will start a conversation. You don’t need your church’s permission, just do it.
Don’t wait for an elected official to sort out the complexities of poverty.
Don’t wait for your taxes to produce better schools.
Don’t wait for your preacher to tell you to do it.
Instead, read the gospel of Luke. Then call up a Christian brother or sister and say, “Hey, Jesus has a heart for the poor, let’s pray that he gives us one too.”
I bet he’ll answer that prayer.
And then you’ll become an answer to the prayer of so many, who are desperate for more workers in the harvest.