Saturday, July 2, 2016

Helping people the hard way

In the west we are often bombarded with the various needs that we see online or in the news. We often want to do something about the difficulties we see people in;  online giving and credit cards have made it extremely easy to respond quickly to the dire need we see. A hurricane victim needs shelter and a new start, a refugee needs safety and protection, a drought  stricken nation needs food. We are able to meet many of these needs by making a donation. It is amazing how quickly people are able to respond with tangible help with the modern ability to make online donations and send off a cheque. 

As children of God we are called to look after the poor and care for their needs. This may not be new information but I think we have fallen into a large trap if we think we have followed Christ's command by simply writing a cheque or making an online donation. 

Have you every realized how personal and raw it gets when we start reading God's Word and trying to truly implement what it says? 

Our work here in Uganda has to do with helping the poor through training and teaching rural farmers (who make u about 75% of sub Saharan population in Africa). They are the rural poor people of Africa; overlooked, overworked and ironically underfed. When learning how to help these poor people we look to Isaiah 58 and learn what God expects of his people in the "True Fast". This is an amazing chapter where God opens up His heart to His people to show them what He really wants from them. He wants a people who worship him in the reality of how they live out their lives not just in the outward spiritual practices like fasting and public prayer.

As you read it have a look at how personal God wants us to get with the poor.

“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,

And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

If you think that is just for the Old Testament look at what our practical brother James writes in the New Testament:

 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

I'm preaching at myself here; I don't like my home to be invaded by a stranger and have my time interrupted by someone who is not part of my "to do" list for the day. But God wants to interrupt me -- invade my life-- so that I can share in the bounty that He has given me. When we let poor and needy into our lives not only do they receive the physical help they need, but we are able to enter into a relationship with them and impart life skills and wisdom from God's Word which is needed for them to avoid poverty and dependency in the future. 

On top of getting is involved in people lives we will get to experience the most wonderful thing of all -- God' blessing! Look at how Isaiah 58 continues as God explains what will happen when we open up our homes and share our bread.

Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;

You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

Online donations and cheques are greatly needed for the work of God to continue but let's not let it be a quick fix for avoiding the deep and personal involvement that God calls us to with the poor of this earth. We're priveledged to work with great people from all over Africa who know what it means to get involved with the poor rural farmers by working right alongside of them to see transformation.
A great team of Farming God's Way trainers who help the poor all over Africa.

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