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Column: A FRESH PERSPECTIVE – Do We Really Care?

By: Mike Kelly
Retired Pastor

For most of us, Prov 31 is remembered because it describes the “Wife of Noble Character”. You know, the wife who treats her husband well, raises her children well and provides for their needs through profits from her businesses. “She is a woman who fears the lord {and} is to be praised”.

Praise God, I married one of those women. But there is more in this chapter. King Lemuel’s mother also taught him to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; defend the rights of all those who have nothing. Speak up and judge fairly and defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Prov 31:8-9)

We call this Social Justice which is taking these verses and living them out both personally and with ministries. What does it mean to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves”?

There are elements in our society that have no voice…they are truly unseen and unheard. The homeless, the addicts, those with mental disabilities like Bi-Polar disease, or Schizophrenia, or PTSD.

Then there are those of the unborn, the poor and even the old. Who advocates for the dementia patient in a badly run nursing home?

Who brings attention to the needs of the homeless? Who is there for the woman suffering from PTSD who makes consistently bad decisions? What about the mentally depressed who think suicide is the best way to go? What about the abused who are afraid to speak up?

Yes, locally there are agencies that help like NAMI, Sarah’s Friends, HUD, NOCAC, the Sanctuary, Victim’s Assistance.

But honestly, our voices are weak and the kinds of people we advocate for are generally thought to be better hidden away than visible to all.

And what about defending the rights of those who have nothing, the poor and needy? Jesus told us in Matthew 10:4 “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

God has a special reward for those who help or advocate or sponsor the poor. If you can afford the newspaper, you are reading this column in, then you are probably not the “poor and the needy”.

Have you ever thought about being poor? Do you think they set out to be poor? Most start out from underprivileged families. Relatively few middle-class kids grow up to be poor.

Plus, their options are more limited. Not that they couldn’t get better grades and go to college or trade schools for a better life, but the culture they live in is not conducive to making those kinds of good decisions.

And they have less rights than you or I do. I know that will rankle some folks but it’s true. I’ve witnessed it multiple times. I have seen their “rights” absolutely bullied over by “the System”.

In one recent incident, children were removed from their parents because of a rumor. No facts. That wouldn’t happen to a family that could afford an attorney. I’m not even saying it was not a dangerous family system but where were their rights?

We can honor God by helping give a voice to the underprivileged. By volunteering to be court advocates or volunteering to help the agencies that are doing the work of caring for the poor.

By speaking up when you see an injustice occurring. And here is a big one, by monitoring your own thinking about the poor you see around. Did they set out to be homeless?

Ask why they are hanging around rather than just talking about how bad it looks. Try a sympathetic approach to people who are obviously poor.

Maybe buy the gas at a pump for someone or their cart of groceries. Maybe donate your car to the shelter who is always in need of cars that run for people staying there. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)

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Mike Kelly is the founding pastor of Bryan’s Grace Community Church (retired) and Board Chairman of Bryan’s Sanctuary Homeless Shelter and Williams County’s Compassion (free) Medical Clinic.


 

The post Column: A FRESH PERSPECTIVE – Do We Really Care? first appeared on The Village Reporter.


Source: The Village Reporter

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