A couple of weeks ago we had an interesting service at church. During the alter call as my pastor was praying for people he began to see a pattern developing. Everyone was asking for prayer because they had either lost their job, their salaries had been cut back significantly, or they were about to lose their home. Sensing a God moment, he asked for anyone who had similar needs to come forward for prayer. I stood amazed as 45 to 50 individuals came for prayer who were experiencing these challenges. It was an eye-opener to the reality of the economic problems we are facing in our nation today.
Following this service, church leadership began strategic planning to help our people–not just our church body, but the community as well. A plan was put in place to host a job fair at church. Applications were prepared for anyone who needed a job. A group of marketplace believers got together and created a network of business owners to work diligently to find the right job match for each applicant. An information area was set up in the church designed specifically for job search applications and help wanted ads. We did not just stop there; as a church body we have been spreading the word about the needs within our church family.
I couldn’t be more proud of the massive amount of support I have seen between believers during this time of economic uncertainty. After all, isn’t this what it is all about? Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as you would yourself’ and I strongly believe what my church as does qualifies as loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Sometimes we think it is just about counseling people when they are in need, or simply praying for them. Those are important elements and need to be present at every encounter we have with hurting people. We must also include the physical part of compassion. My feeling sorry for my sister’s situation will not put food on her table, but my offer to buy her a loaf of bread will do both–fill her belly and strengthen her faith.
Everything we do should be done out of a heart of compassion but also an immense amount of wisdom. Be compassionate, but do not allow people to become co-dependant or take advantage of you. Many Christians cannot seem to make the distinction and end up in a whole lot of trouble and even become resentful. Always pray for God’s leading and His spirit to give you discernment and wisdom as you tackle each need that comes your way.
My family is no stranger to these types of situations and we have not always used wisdom. About five years ago we were leaving church on a Sunday and met a young homeless couple. After hearing their story, both my husband and I felt compelled to help them. We decided to host the young girl at our home and another friend hosted the young man. The couple was not married and very young. We took them under our wings and began pouring into their lives. We fed, clothed them, and helped them find jobs. My husband even offered to officiate their wedding. During all of this time we were pouring the Word of God into their lives and taking them to church with us.
Three months later after they were both on their feet, the young man was able to get an apartment and against our wishes she moved in with him. Later the young woman left her boyfriend to return home to her family. Sometime later we received a phone call from the young man saying his girlfriend was coming back to live with him. He needed us to pick her up at the airport. My husband asked him if they would be getting married to which the young man replied absolutely not. My husband kindly declined to help them out this time. He told him, “when you were in need we helped you out of a heart of compassion, but you are now on your feet and you know where we stand on this issue, therefore we cannot in good faith be part of the lifestyle you choose to live.” The young man understood and there were no ill feelings between us.