As I watched the “Secret Millionaire” show last evening, which featured Tri Coastal Community Outreach which I have worked closely with for seven years, I was struck again by how ignorant many Christian denominations are when it comes to charity. For reasons that escape me, there is a belief among some branches of our faith that it is a bad thing to help people in any way except preaching the Bible to them. I believe this is not only shortsighted but also in direct opposition to what Jesus said in the parable recorded in Matthew 25:34-46.
When someone has been beaten down by life’s storms, the last thing they need (usually) is someone to slam a Bible over their head and tell them to believe. When someone has seen their home washed away, their job dissolved, their family split apart or their physical body break down; the last thing they need to hear is that they are a sinner and all these things happened to them because they sinned.
When I dropped everything in May of 2006 and took off for the Gulf Coast to try and help those who were in great need after Hurricane Katrina, I had one goal in mind and that was to be of service. I of course had my Bible with me and studied it faithfully, but I did not embark on my journeys to be an evangelist but rather to be a servant.
Many times I found myself loading or unloading trucks in 99 degree heat, tearing out rotten drywall in a mold infested house, running all over three states trying to find supplies when none were to be found and numerous other menial tasks. My greatest joy came when I was able to be a part of a distribution day at one of the outreach centers when food and other supplies were passed out.
I remember vividly handing a package of toilet paper to an older lady at a distribution center one day. I had to drive nearly 100 miles to find that paper due to shortages. Upon receiving the package, the woman broke down in tears and thanked the Lord for His faithfulness over and over again. How can helping someone SEE the love of God in manifestation be wrong?
When I wasn’t actually helping people I was traveling across the United States trying to present the needs I had witnessed to churches, ministries and other groups who claimed they wanted to help people. For the most part my appeals landed on deaf ears. Time and again I heard the same excuses which were that these people needed to help themselves and just “giving them things” did not help them rebuild their lives.
If more Christian preachers and teachers spent less time talking and more time putting on their work clothes and helping someone rebuild their home, clean their yard or find supplies to stay alive; more people would come to the Lord by seeing the love of God in manifestation than just hearing about it on Sunday morning. Those who live their faith provide a far greater testimony to the faith than those who simply want to talk about it.