Authentic Christian spirituality is demonstrated by our actions. A caring and compassionate response to those in need reflects the love of Christ.
A response to those in need based in fear, selfishness, greed and racial bigotry does not demonstrate God’s grace and mercy. These are not Christian values, nor is violence, especially directed toward the poor and the suffering.
Getting real means adopting a lifestyle of faithfulness to the Gospel. Real Christianity requires a radical discipleship to Jesus Christ that demonstrates His love and grace in all relationships and in our every action. And this is especially true in regard to how we treat the least of these among us.
The following news brief is taken from a SHN staff memo:
Stop Hunger Now India Flood Response Continues
Stop Hunger Now India continues to provide relief to those affected by the severeflooding in Chennai. Executive Director Dola Mohapatra has issued an update on the response, as well as an appeal to donors for additional support. Here is an excerpt:
As an immediate response to this emergency situation, Stop Hunger Now India, in partnership with Treasure Life Foundation, Hope Foundation and Rural Relief Network/SAARP (as well as few other local NGOs and civic groups) has provided nearly 150,000 meals to over 5,000 families in Chennai and Cuddalore areas, including the cut-off pockets in rural Panchayats.
As you may have been seeing the news items across the TV channels, the situation is quite grave and we have been receiving SOS requests from a number of local groups. The field teams responding to the current situation have requested immediate help for food packets, medical supplies, clothes etc.
We are gearing up to send 300,000meals for the affected families. We also have received requests for mats, tarpaulins, water-filters, tents and bed sheets, water containers, warm clothes, school supplies for children etc. We have a warehouse in Bangalore where these materials are being collected and the field team will be able to pick up all these once a truck load of materials are gathered.
All good things must come to an end. So it now is with our time in South Sudan. We must leave for the airstrip in about 2 hours.
That will be the start of almost 24 hours of travel. All of us are ready to get home, but there’s not a one of us on the team looking forward to the trip.
The time here in Yei and the surrounding region has been rich in opportunities for ministry, and the entire team feels good about all the work we have been able to accomplish.
This team is far more experienced than a lot I have been on. That has allowed us to split up and go in different directions and work on a number of different projects at the same time. That is unusual.
We have a retired police officer that spent the week training local Yei police in the rule of law and riot control. We have a hospital CEO from Georgia that spent the week working with the United Methodist medical missionaries. Several of our group spent the week installing libraries (including donating & cataloging over450 books) at two children’s homes. Another group worked to resolve long-standing issues with local churches. A couple of us worked tos discover how to increase local food security and find new microenterprise opportunities.
All of us have made new friends and relationships. And all of us already want to return even though we are ready to be home.
It’s been a full and blessed time, but now we have to say farewell for now as we begun the long journey back to the US.
Tom Berlin is the senior pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon, Virginia. He is also a close friend who is one of the most mission-minded church leaders I know. This is a recent article on a new United Methodist Church iniative here in Virginia.
When life gives you lemons …
By the Rev. Tom Berlin
I never thought when I entered ministry that the Virginia Annual Conference would encourage us to start lemonade stands. Start new churches, yes. Start new ministries, okay. But lemonade stands?
But I think this plan from the folks who are leading the Imagine No Malaria initiative in Virginia is a great idea for many reasons. Let me share a few:
It involves kids and those who care for them. Kids like helping people, and they like the opportunity to run things that make a real difference in ways you can count. When their efforts give them an opportunity to be generous with the funds they have earned, they are truly empowered to bless others. At Floris UMC we have challenged the kids by telling them that the church will double every dollar that they raise. Their leadership will have twice the impact!
I like buying lemonade from kids. I think if you drive past a kid in at a lemonade stand and don’t stop, you are just a bad American. When you give a kid a dime or a quarter for a cup of lemonade, they get very excited and all official business on you. I just get a kick out of it.
It gives people who don’t go to our churches an opportunity to be generous, and generosity is good for the soul. Picture the smiling adult plunking down their quarter for the lemonade – the kid is smiling, the adult is smiling, the adult helping the kid is smiling. Now imagine that kid saying, thanks, all the proceeds from our lemonade stand go to fight malaria. You can read about it right here.The customer reads about Imagine No Malaria and realizes what a great thing this kid is doing selling lemonade for a good cause. That spurs generosity. It is not coerced or guilt-ridden. It is the kind of joyful generosity that helps people sleep better at night knowing they have been about good in the world. So often people want to do the right thing, and just need a good opportunity.
Kids at Floris are going to hand out invitations to attend our church along with information about malaria. I can’t think of a better advertisement for the UMC than children who know about the world beyond their community, serve those who suffer from a terrible disease and are a part of a church excited about their efforts. I hope we have kids in every neighborhood in our area offering lemonade and telling those who stop about what we are doing to relieve the suffering of malaria. Think of how that will change the way many people think about the church.
Finally, I am excited because I travel to Sierra Leone, Africa, on a fairly regular basis and know people who routinely suffer from malaria, which is debilitating and can lead to tragic deaths. The money raised in Virginia and shared with our church in Africa matters. These lemonade stands aren’t just some new gimmick. They are a means of grace to pay for bed nets, medications and training that will save lives. And that, friends, is one sweet deal.
Preparing for my class I am teaching at George Mason University this fall, I am doing a lot of reading. Another good book I have just finished is The White Man’s Burden:Why the West’s Efforts the Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly. The book was named best book of the year by The Economist, Financial Times and the Washington Post.
TheWhite Man’s Burden is the sequel to Easterly’s first book, The Elusive Quest For Growth. Recognized as one of the world’s best know development economists, Easterly offers both a brilliant and a biting diagnosis of the West’s interventions on behalf of the poor in The White Man’s Burden. He makes an excellent argument that our focus needs to be focused on small, measurable interventions that encourage self dependance and personal growth rather than multimillion dollar macro-projects with a continuous history of failure.
Remember, aid cannot achieve the end of poverty. Only homegrown development based on the dynamism of individuals and firms in free markets can do that. Shorn of the impossible task of general economic development, aid can achieve much more than it is achieving now to relieve the sufferings of the poor.
Put the focus back where it belongs: get the poorest people in the world such obvious goods as the vaccines, the antibiotics, the food supplements, the improved seeds, the fertilizer, the roads, the boreholes, the water pipes, the textbooks, and the nurses. This is not making the poor dependent on handouts; it is giving the poorest people the health, nutrition, education, and other inputs that raise the payoff to their own efforts to better their lives.
Easterly’s expertise makes this a must-read for anyone involved in working with the poor and hungry, or interested in international development.