as Thyself.

Week 10: Ministry to the Poor/Inner City Ministry

“I think God keeps the poor on Earth for me.  Because the poor change me.”  Mother Teresa

This week our teacher was Kit Danley, a feisty, compassionate woman who started Neighborhood Ministries in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband 30 years ago.  She came to us with lots of wisdom and lots of passion to share, and left us with a fresh perspective on poverty and urban missions.

My most favorite fact of the week is that the Bible contains over 3,000 verses that relate to God’s Love for the poor.  Three thousand!  God loves the poor. This is undeniable, yet it’s a difficult concept to understand for those who see the suffering of the world’s poor and don’t see God doing anything about it.  Oh but He is!  And He is doing so every day, working through people who care about others to show His love to everyone.  It’s important to keep this in mind when we want to start a new ministry in a new place, that God is already at work there, even if we can’t see it.

God even works through people who don’t believe in Him, and the Bible says that these people glorify God by what they do for the poor: “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”  Proverbs 14:31  God is honored when humanity loves it’s own, and He doesn’t specify that Christians are the only ones who can honor Him with their deeds.  Interesting, right?

It’s like the story of the Good Samaritan, who didn’t know God at all.  Yet it was he who helped the Jewish man who was laying broken in the road, while the priest walked right past.  Kit pointed out an aspect to this story that I’d never thought about before and it is this: the Samaritan knew the dangers of traveling on that road, especially alone, and perhaps one reason why the priest and the levite ignored him was because they thought he had made a stupid decision.  They thought that he should have known better, he shouldn’t have put himself in danger, basically.. he got what he deserved for doing what he did.  And Jesus would have known this, as he gave them this example, but He made it clear that the person who helped the Samaritan was the one who did what was right.  Kit connected this concept to the hundreds of immigrants who die each year crossing the Arizona desert.  They’re doing something illegal, they’re knowingly putting their lives in danger, but that doesn’t dismiss us from the mandate we have from God to help the needy.  Very interesting, right?

I couldn’t go to Circulo this week because our class went on a field trip!  We went to a men’s rehabilitation center and a local orphanage, the latter of which was so inspiring to see.  Their mission statement is “In God We Trust” and the directors completely believe that their kids deserve just as many opportunities as children who are being raised outside of a children’s home.  The way that God has blessed for their trust in Him was so evident, as we listened to their story and were given a tour of the ocean view property.  We’ve been learning a lot in our school about the detriments of institutions, but I think God has so much grace, and I know He is working in those children’s lives even though their situation is not the best.

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