Philanthropy, yay or nay?
I was passing by circle recently when I saw a poster talking about feeding the street children. Immediately my unease with this kind of initiatives hit me. I haven’t really been able to support these initiatives. That’s because to me, they are short term solutions for long standing problems. Well, I mean those who take these initiatives, like well done. But usually, what are you trying to achieve? Is it that you really want to solve the problems? Or you wish to be able to, “you know feel good and philanthropic?”
In today’s world of social media and internet, we are able to draw in help from all over the world. With the possibilities comes the increase in such “feed/clothe the street peeps/orphans” initiatives. Inherently, they may be great, I mean a hungry person gets to eat. It’s just that upon the many outreaches like these, the problem changes not. People may argue that one particular day makes the people feel special. Have you really felt special after just once being screamed at your dad, though he’s always pampering you? Does one day really make a difference? Does food and clothes really solve the main issues? Is it that these people don’t have a need for spirituality, hope, faith, purpose, etc? Do they only exist to eat today and struggle to eat again tomorrow until they die?
Is Feeding/Clothing alone enough?
Sorry, that’s too many questions. Lawyer Francis Sosu is one of the prominent lawyers who I know got off the streets. He’s the only one that comes to my mind. I am pretty confident, that there are several others like him. What I’m wondering is if just being fed or clothed for a day, would have changed much for him. Here’s a short snippet from an interview with him.
I recall that it was when I was in St. John’s JSS, Kokomlemle that I became a complete street child. My parents had to move out of our family house to Taifa Borkina. I could not move to live with them because that will mean I will have to stop schooling. That was how I ended up at the Malam Atta market. Night and day the market became my home. Whilst in the Senior high school I had graduated from living at Malam Atta market to living in a small wooden kiosk at Kotoba.
Culled from: Leaders Around Blog
As my wandering mind continued wandering, seeking to understand why I felt uncomfortable with such initiatives, it dawned on me why. For a Christian like me, I see that feeding these people for a day without an opportunity of latching on to eternal hope to last them the rest of their lives doesn’t change much. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Would you profit a young man or woman on the street or in the village by giving them a solution to their root problem: poverty? Or you would profit them by giving a solution to their resultant problem: hunger/nakedness. I have grown up in a rural community and really, it’s not about being fed or having clothes on your back. It takes something superior to food to raise you to a pedestal of hope unto others.
So then I made a resolution to support the people who do these with the aim of sharing the good news of Christ . Like the “Christ-in-a-pack” initiative by CIE (Christ Is Enough). Ones like this I will learn to support because in addition to feeding someone during Christmas, they give people an opportunity to know about Christ and make the decision to accept Him. If you’ve been a knowledgeable Christian for a while, you’d know that when someone accepts Christ’s sacrifice from a place of understanding, hope grows in them. Because the Holy Spirit begins working within these people. And even if they don’t end up enjoying a luxurious life here on earth, they are at peace with the Christ in their hearts.
Love for humanity should be backed by love(fear) for God
Remember Christ said, in this world, you’ll face tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome. If you’re a Christian reading this, when you reach out, share the gospel of Christ. Don’t leave it at just feeding the body for a period in the day. Give the people an opportunity to have the eternal hope you also have. Unless of course you’re the person who associates with the Christ brand but don’t live the Christ life.
The Samaritan woman met Christ at the well and heard profound things that changed her life. If it was just about physical thirst, she’d definitely become thirsty again. But the experience of learning Christ and being connected to him even in that brief period changed her and made her go out to tell others.
What I am trying to say here is that, as people who carry Christ, we can have a lot more influence on the people we meet daily than we’re doing. You may be unable to go feed the people on the street or provide some orphans somewhere with clothes and provisions. But you have the spirit of God within you, which comes with several spiritual gifts that can be used to change the lives of unprivileged people.
Love the Lord your God ….. and Love your Neighbour as yourself!
Some of us have the gift of prophecy, speaking a prophetic word to a hopeless man could transform his life for the better. Because the spirit gives life. Others are encouragers, leaders, merciful people, creatives, strategists, educationists and a whole lot more.
What about you decide to do the philanthropy around you? Be that light that shines for the people immediately around you to benefit from. Make time to teach a boy whose parents can’t afford school, babysit for that neighbor who’s pregnant and has a one year old too. Help a young girl who wants to do fashion design start by learning from YouTube and practicing with the hand machine you buy her. Make time to chat with that grandma who’s always lonely on your daily route.
Philanthropy is good. However, as Christians, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Christ first called us to love God and love our neighbours. When we’re able to reach out to our neighbors, they will also share the good news like the Samaritan woman did. You don’t need a branded event, or sponsorship from the richest man on earth to show love. You have your gifts, you have your experiences and you have your expertise. Be a solution providing Christian everywhere you find yourself. Doing good doesn’t have to be once a year, it should be everyday.
Do Good, but preach Christ and His goodness too!
So if you’re a “Street Outreach Intent & Effect” doubting Thomas like me. Go home with this: support the ones who do this to share Christ. Because even though they may give bread for a day, they also give the people the bread of life. And if you can’t support the initiatives, don’t feel bad about it. Reach out to the people around you and let them experience the Christ you know.
Finally, if you’re in a position to actually create solutions to solve the homelessness, poverty and “streetism”, do so. Start a business, open a school, create employment. Whatever you think it would take you to solve these problems, do so. And be long term minded, so you can provide long term solutions. And if you’re a Christian who organises such programs, remember to always make Christ part of the agenda.
Bless you for reading!
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