At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. Deuteronomy 14:28-29
This morning’s devotional reading from Deuteronomy made me think of an incident that happened Sunday at an Administrative Board meeting my church had after our community luncheon. We were discussing the local ministry for the poor. Shepherd of the Streets was founded in our town in 1981 when my husband was the chairperson of the Social Concerns Committee of the United Churches organization in town. The churches of the county all pull their resources and care for the poor in various ways. There is a soup kitchen, a food pantry, clothing ministry, furniture ministry, fuel relief, homeless shelter and women’s shelter and an extensive computer system that ties it all together to keep watch over all the accounts. Our church members were discussing how much of the church budget to pledge to this ministry when one of the members said, “The government takes care of all that, I don’t think we need to do much.”
Aaarggh! My husband mourned this statement all the way home in the car. “This is just the problem with our system. The government should not be caring for the poor–the church should be!” This morning, sitting across the table from the man I’ve eaten breakfast with for almost 41 years, I could still see the same spark of determination in his spirit to “save the world” that drew me to him in the first place. This morning as we read Deuteronomy together, I could see the beautiful plan God gave His people for caring for the poor, the widow, the orphan in their midst. My husband firmly believes in this plan and built his ministry around it. It calls for the church to take care of people. In doing so, charity becomes personal. The provider has a face. The receiver has accountability. Face-to-face, heart-to-heart, real solutions can emerge. I think I’ll go talk with the executive director of the Lycoming County United Churches!
Called to care, Dawn