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Focus on America

Responding to those in need

I struggled for many years as a pastor trying to determine what the biblical response should be to hungry and needy people. For a long time, we did very little to help those who were not a part of our congregation. The rationale was, "If the government, with its billions of dollars, cannot change the economic status of these people, how can we with our few dollars hope to do better?"

Then I had an experience that changed my outlook.

A lady visited our church and was saved. Her husband wanted no part of her newfound faith and, in many ways, made it very difficult for her. In the course of time, he was stricken with cancer and laid off his job. Unknown to us, this family fell into difficult straits — even to the point of having no food to eat.

One morning his wife suggested they pray and ask God for help. Her husband said, "When I see your God put groceries on our table, then I will believe." Five minutes later, a man from our church, feeling prompted by the Holy Spirit, knocked at their door, walked into their house and set a large box of groceries on the kitchen table. A few days later, I was called to this dying man’s bedside and led him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Arrival of a few dollars’ worth of groceries at a crucial time touched his life in a way that nothing else had.

Helping needy people is a scriptural principle that should be taken care of by the church rather than the government. The major difference in the effectiveness of the government’s billions and the limited resources of a local church is Jesus. He said that, if we would give a cup of cold water in His name, we would not lose our reward. If we leave out the Jesus factor, then we become second-class imitators of governmental agencies.

Those who share Jesus on a humanitarian level will be severely criticized from certain segments of the community who are adamantly opposed to mixing religion and helping the needy. Unfortunately, they don’t understand that Jesus and religion are two separate directions in life and that Jesus is an inseparable part of who we are as a church. We cannot and we must not compromise on this core value. It may not be politically correct to say it, but Jesus is still the only way to the Father. If giving away some food and clothing provides a door for someone to find Him, so be it.

— Charles Hackett

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