Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Helping Others

In conversation with an African pastor, we were wondering what our faith encourages in us regarding others.  Help them along?  Absolutely.

... for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in.

It's a heart thing, I think.  You have to actually care.  And you have to recognize that the poor aren't poor by choice.  It usually is done to them, by discrimination, by politics, by external events they didn't choose.

In our own community and elsewhere, there are opportunities to lend a hand, to make a difference.  We're supposed to love each other, perhaps with more heart than a government program might offer.

It's so vitally appropriate to help, of course, but there are more questions.

Meet today's need...
... or can we perhaps help solve the problem too?

Here are some ideas that go past just feeding someone today ...  
    • We offer help to meet a need, often an immediate survival need.
    • Then too, we might offer help to change things so that the underlying cause is changed.
    • Give food, then perhaps teach them to fish (or whatever) and equip them to do so.
    • Then maybe teach a little marketing and business, help them build local market rules, product quality standards, health considerations, maybe help the country protect their fishermen from unfair market practices, help the international community enforce fishing laws, and shut down the illegal fishing.
    • It was the illegal fishing that was the reason they were hungry in the first place. Effective help aims at the need, of course, but at the cause as well, perhaps.

    FAMINE?  Others have pointed out that there's not a world-wide food shortage, and there's not a drought big enough to make famine inevitable anywhere, at least not yet.
    It's nations and cultures that are broken.  The rich are doing just fine everywhere, and most often, it's just national and cultural practices that trap the poor on the edge of survival.  More injustice than anything else. Interesting thought.

    Local African youth group helping to
    rebuild community croplands.
    It raises a tough question.  What if our culture is broken too?  What if we're part of the problem?

    Fixing a broken community, a broken culture, a broken world, that's where 'help' is going, I suppose, if we really mean it.

    What would that look like?  Ideas?

    It's a large question.  Want to offer your thoughts on changing things?