CARE FOR THE POOR
One of the greatest gifts to me as a young songwriter, worship leader, and pastor was a mentor who immersed me in the life of the poor.
Delivering furniture, bicycles, and food, eating meals together and sharing communion, all were a part of my nascent, unspoken leadership training program. There was no disconnection between my faith life, creative life, and compassionate life in my early years of church leadership. Eating, laughing, and worshipping with those who are the most vulnerable to society’s overarching incapacity to care shapes one’s spirituality irrevocably.
Friends and mentors like John Wimber, Gary Best, David Ruis, Andy Park, Brian Doerksen, J. Pullinger, Steve Stewart, Bruce Ellis, and many others had their faith and leadership forged among the poor. It became a guiding North Star for vital leadership.
I’ve come to realize that many of my greatest struggles are with systems that create programs for ongoing life enhancement while singularly forgetting the poor. Celebrities help us forget the poor. Malls help us forget the poor. A toothless grin from a woman living on the streets (accompanied by pungent breath from drinking Listerine as a cheap buzz fix) can be more hospitable and endearing than any supermodel’s perfect smile. Society, by and large, teaches us to forget the poor.
The Apostles, when they were launching the passionate Apostle Paul to reach out into the foreign Gentile world, said that there was only one thing they asked of him if he was going to represent the Jesus-faith in the world. “Don’t forget the poor,” is all they asked. Paul responded, “That was the very thing I was eager to do!” That’s why an Empire shuttered at their voice – and why a little old 20th century nun from Calcutta commanded the respect of Kings and Queens.
This is one of the main reasons I proudly call the Vineyard Movement my immediate faith family. It is in our DNA to care, meaningfully and intentionally, for the poor.
When your core founder carries groceries in the trunk of his car, waiting for the right soul who needs them, it creates a viral ethos throughout that imperfect system. Every church plant, every leadership appointment, will resonate with some degree of awareness that without the poor near the center of our value set, we’ll create spiritual social clubs and disciple self-absorbed Christians.
If you’re stuck in a myopic vision of life, fearful about money, or relationships, or your job, step outside of your current patterns this season and immerse yourself in the world of the poor. Reclaim your value system, and get this part of your purpose in life back in order. The haves need the have-nots, and one day we’ll wake up to find we are the have-not needing the other.
It will alter you, and a revelation of what it means to be one with the poor, to live in spiritual solidarity with the broken in society, will forever stamp your soul. Mother Theresa and many others followed their Lord Jesus onto this terrain. We can too.
Lets care for the poor.