Get Together member, Ed Case, served as a volunteer delivering “Boxes of Love” to needy families during Thanksgiving week. Here are his reflections on the experience.
Brothers and sisters, I have to tell all of you about a heart-wrenching and deeply convicting experience I had yesterday as a result of delivering Thanksgiving meals to the residents of Houston’s Third Ward through the auspices of Generation One Ministry and Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church. I have to tell all of you how “shocked” I was at the abysmal poverty that exists in this community (ramshackle housing, trash littering the streets, and lives being led in quiet desperation) that exists is in the shadow of the power and substantial wealth of downtown Houston.
Are their adequate resources to completely alleviate this tragic situation and needless suffering???? Let me put this in perspective with the following story recounted by my friend Peter Forbes at a recent Barnabas Group breakfast. Peter focused us on the recent death of a prominent Houston business man who was lauded for his magnanimity and charitable giving of $100 million. While this is a significant sum, it pales in comparison to his vast net worth of $9 billion. In the oil capital of the United States, as elsewhere, vast sums of money are accumulated solely for the purpose of self aggrandizement with the underlying philosophy seeming to be that he who dies with the most assets wins. However, as Jesus clearly tells us in the parable of the rich landowner (see Luke 12:16-21), such a philosophy is “utterly bankrupt” in God’s economy.
So, what is the problem?? Why are we turning a blind eye to the abject poverty that is in our midst??? Why are we not meeting the pressing needs of the least, the lost, and the marginalized as God commands us???? As Jesus clearly tells us (see Matthew 6:21, 13:15, and 15:19-20) the core issue truly is a matter of the state of our hearts. Clearly, it is God’s heart that His servants alleviate suffering and poverty in the world (see Isaiah 58:6-8), and Jesus further confirms this with His convicting words in the synagogue at Nazareth in the Gospel of Luke (see Luke 4: 18-21). As Jim Herrington of Mission Houston boldly proclaims, we are most fully human and fully alive when we live in a living, loving, and lasting relationship with the least and the lost, and this philosophy undergirds Mission Houston’s focused effort to plant “missional communities” around the City of Houston so the Kingdom of God is tangibly visible to all those who most desperately need it.
As Richard Stearns passionately writes in his most recent book, The Hole in Our Gospel, today, God’s name is slandered and His identity is defaced. They are slandered by poverty, by injustice, by corruption, by disease, and human exploitation and suffering. And God’s name is defiled when His people willingly and apathetically accept the status quo, lacking the vision to lift up God’s holiness, goodness, and justice in a crumbling world. God’s heart was broken over the condition of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s time, and His heart is broken today by the sad condition of our world and our failure to challenge it.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus tells us that the poor are always among us (see Mark 14:7), and He expects us to be His hands and feet who will alleviate the abject poverty and needless suffering of the poor in our midst. I pray that we will have soft and supple hearts and out of the abundance of the love that dwells in each of our hearts, we will bountifully share the abundance of blessings that God bestows on each one of us with those who so desperately need it.
Do I hear an AMEN????????????????
Lord God, just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem, my heart breaks and my soul weeps for the abject poverty that is, sadly, all too prevalent in the world around us. Lord God, help me to cast aside my selfishness and pride that all too often lets me turn a blind eye to the least, the lost, and the marginalized. Help soften my heart so it would draw me to the least of my brethren so that I may become an instrument of Your grace, peace, and love. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. Oh Divine Master, grant that I should not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be forgiven as to forgive, and, most of all, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving we truly receive, it is in pardoning we are pardoned, and it is in dying to self that we are truly born to eternal life.