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What We Have Learned? Part 1

January 17, 2011

From time to time people ask about what we have learned about community impact from doing what we do. For the next few weeks I plan on sharing some of what we have discovered these past six plus years of trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

First thing we learned? Money makes you a target. When people find out you help people in need needs sprout up like weeds in a garden. I will never forget the time we helped with a woman who clearly had a substance abuse problem. We worked to get her into rehab and in doing so also helped with some of her needs.

I will never forget the anger one of her neighbors had when I told him we wouldn’t help him with his needs. I thought we were going to have a fight. We helped her, why not him? Yes, she has a drug problem and so did he. When she dropped out of rehab and ended up back on the street there was little we could do the next time she asked for help.

It is a warning I always share.

Oh, and every need is always an emergency and every emergency is temporary and each one will never happen again, they are all a one time situation due to circumstances of someone else’s making, always beyond their control.

Rarely have I had someone come up to me and say I have made a mess of my life. I can’t pay rent because I have a drinking problem or gambling problem, would you please help. I have had people confess they have a problem, and they are the ones we have helped.

One man turned himself in and went to jail to get his life going back in the right direction. We helped him with household needs before he eventually took that step. As I have already mentioned, another attempted to get clean. The key to me was their honesty about their problems because it usually goes the other way.

Recently I received a phone call from a man that just needed some money to get him to his next paycheck. He had an emergency. We typically begin these discussion with a question about their current church home. The idea is if they have one we would like to work together to help them with their needs. This is helpful for several reasons. If they really do have a church family they have a better understanding of the situation. Trust me I have had Pastor’s tell me that they have a greater need then money for food or rent.

Next I ask about work. This particular gentleman had started out by saying he just needed money to get him to his next paycheck. I asked him where he worked and I told him I needed the phone number so that I could verify employment. The phone went dead.

I think we need to remember Jesus words when he said, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16. I’m not sure we see their connection when it comes to loving our neighbor but I believe these words strike at the very heart of any ministry aimed at helping people in need.

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