Last Saturday my small group volunteered at a church that was serving lunch to minister to the homeless, and we had a number of conversations with people who live on the streets of Indianapolis. One of those people was a man in a wheelchair–his clothes were old and torn, what was left of his hair was tangled, and he clearly hadn’t bathed in quite some time. Here right in front of me was a homeless, retired soldier, a long way from home, without the means to take care of himself. This broke my heart. My mind was racing with all the possible reasons for this outcome in his life. Was it something that he couldn’t help, like a mental disability? A pattern of bad decisions that left him with no one who trusted him or wanted him? Honestly, I don’t know. After the lunch, there was a drawing for prizes, and he ended up winning a new backpack filled with snacks and a few cans of soda. I was struck by the joy that such a simple gift brought to this man. He was so overwhelmed, he was brought to tears.
I knew this backpack wasn’t going to truly fix his problem, nor was this lunch he had been served. At the end of the day, he would still be homeless. That night he would camp out again under an overpass or huddle near a fire to try to keep warm. We weren’t really fixing the greater problem, we were just alleviating some of the pain in this person’s extremely difficult life.
Too often in response to some of the world’s greatest problems, like poverty, we feel the need is too great, so we do nothing. I want to suggest the problem isn’t that we can’t change the way the world works, it’s that we use this as an excuse to turn a blind eye to the hurting around us. It was Mother Theresa who said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” A seemingly small thing to us, like a backpack, can make a huge difference in the life of someone else.
Zechariah 7:10-11 says, “Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart. But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.” God doesn’t call us to change the way the world works. He does call us to do whatever good we can in it. I do fully agree the only true win is heart transformation, but people don’t care how much you know until the know how much you care!
Take a moment and share your thoughts–a way you have ministered to someone, or an idea a family or small group could use.
Remember Jesus states in Matthew 25:40 “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”