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What Should Our Response Be to Poverty?

While DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral in a recent article printed in the Manila Bulletin at href=”http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/234217/dswd-joins-call-ignore-street-kids-begging-alms presents a seemingly valid argument and one we might tend to agree with as to why we shouldn’t answer the call for help to street beggars, what do our consciousness’ dictate?

On the opposing side, in an article published August 2008, “Scavengers No More: Looking at Homelessness in Manila,”href=”http://www.lausanneworldpulse.com/urban.php/994/08-2008?pg=3″, Corrie De Boer shares a compelling story of her own encounter with a homeless family who battled homelessness for two decades and the road in search of long-term change.

Scripture lays out several verses to help us make an intelligent decision in our own search:

• 2 Corinthians 8: 1-5 gives praise to the Macedonians whose generosity was overflowing in their time of great adversity. (See href=”http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/Matthew-Henry/2Cor/Enforces-This-Gifts-Love-Grace?” for commentary.
• Isaiah 58:6-7 tells us we are to share the food from our tables with the hungry, to bring the homeless poor into our homes and that when we see the naked, to cover them. And then interestingly, Scripture admonishes us to not hide from our own flesh.
• Isaiah 58:10 tells us if we pour ourselves out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, “then [our] light shall “rise in the darkness and [our] gloom be as the noonday.” (See also Ezekiel 18:7 and Matthew 25:35.)
• Matthew’s Commentary on Nehemiah 5 at href=”http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/Matthew-Henry/Neh/Jews-Complain-Grievances “ tells us that we show contempt for our heavenly Father when we despise the poor.
• In Matthew 5 and Luke 6:27-36, Jesus tells the rich young ruler to sell all that he owns and give it to the poor.

I stand along with Corrie De Boer.  We are called to provide relief to the poor in the time of their adversity.  But I must qualify the great need to be by the Spirit or be led to the poor house.

Over the years Matthew and I spent at Rancho 3M, in Guadalupe, Mexico we grappled with, touched, hugged, fed, prayed, taught, evangelized and mingled with dozens of children along with beggars who flooded the borders, mostly all coming from poverty stricken homes. Some continued down the road to destruction but many, were changed for good and will lead successful lives. When I recall the salvation stories of some of our kids there, when I see the pictures of the children we will be serving in Cebu, Philippines, hear of Dennis and Marwin who have begun a two-year Bible School and of little 5 year old Mauri whom when asked who are her Mom and Dad reply, “Mama Lisay and Papa Matthew,” I am totally undone.

So what are we to do? However we come to terms with poverty, whatever we do, our actions must be rooted in faith and faith alone. This Christmas season, let us be led by the Spirit and in faith as God leads.

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