Imagine God has called you to minister to widows and orphans who live in a slum area of a third-world country. You could pour yourself into fund-raising in order to build a feeding center. It will be on the outskirts of the slum since you can purchase acreage there (with some government stipulations of a local board of directors, since foreigners cannot actually own land post-colonialism). You raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed for the land, structure, wall and gate so you can protect the donor’s investments and the staff you will need. Oh, yes, there is also some money left for the first food you will give to the people you want to bless.
Yes, more people than you could have anticipated are willing to come for the beans and rice you give at lunch. Yes, they are willing to sit through the mandatory Bible study that precedes the meal. You know you are keeping some of these single moms from giving up their children as orphans because now they have at least one meal every day. You also know they are hearing from Scriptures and God’s Word will not come back void.
Have you really helped? Have you trained local people that “through this kind of hard work we must help the weak,” per Paul’s counsel?
No, I don’t think that’s really helping, John. I think that if you REALLY want to help, you have to find a way, or have Abba lead you to a way, to help people learn to support themselves and their families. Yes, there are many situations in which this is at least temporarily impossible and in those situations, yes, passing out food (imo without a required sermon) is a life saver. But it had better be followed with something better than just perpetually passing out peanut butter sandwiches. Standing in a food line doesn’t give anyone hope. It just keeps them physically alive.
Cindy, as you note, the problem develops when we utilize relief methods at inappropriate times. Right after a tsunami, emergency feeding is good. Months later, though, people need to be equipped to plant food they can raise for themselves. An old proverb reminds us, “Give a man a fish you feed him today. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a life time!” Thanks for responding!