Reach Out

Dear Friends, Census Bureau statistics reveal that there are now more poor people in America than at any other time in the 52 years records have been kept. This is the new age of doubling up where households in which […]

Dear Friends,

Census Bureau statistics reveal that there are now more poor people in America than at any other time in the 52 years records have been kept. This is the new age of doubling up where households in which adult children who can’t afford life on their own return to live with their parents.

As tensions rise many of these individuals who are doubling up will eventually find themselves among the 3.4 million homeless Americans. The break-up of the family unit, high unemployment, cut backs in mental health and addiction treatment programs are all contributing to the epidemic of homelessness we are now witnessing.

Nationwide, 9.6 million families spend more than half of their income on housing. Missing one paycheck or encountering a single emergency can at anytime thrust them into the ranks of the homeless.

In the midst of such growing need the question is where do we as a people who care start? How do we keep going in the midst of what appears to be impossible odds and opposition?

  1. Define the need – This may even involve living with those in need for a while so that you can feel what they feel, think what they think and experience the daily frustration they experience. Be in prayer, asking God to show you what is needed for deliverance from this situation – avoid simplistic responses.
  2. Use whatever resources are presently available to you to help those around you who are suffering – For example, when New Life Evangelistic Center first got started, we used our 50 foot trailer home to house homeless men on the living room carpet. Now that has grown to a large number of centers throughout Mid-America. If you have a home, access to a church basement, a car or whatever you have, use it to reach out and help those who are in need. Don’t forget that even if you are penniless, you have the greatest resource in the world available at your disposal. That resource is prayer. Since New Life Evangelistic Center first started, it has had special prayer and fasting Communion services every Wednesday at noon for the needs in the community. The staff is also asked to pray daily for the needs of those they meet during their daily ministry.
  3. Stand fast in faith – There will be moments of discouragement, loneliness, fear and frustration. At times you will feel like you are totally alone. At those moments it is critical for you to remember Hebrews 12:1-4: “Wherefore seeing we also are encompassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradictions of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds.” If you keep your eyes on Jesus, even those who resist you or don’t appreciate you today will come to respect your labors tomorrow. But do all earnestly for the glory of God. Remember that public opinion will change daily towards your work, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
  4. Pace yourself according to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit – The need will always be greater than your ability to respond. Realize your human limitations and thank God for them. Jesus is the Lord and supplier. If you try to assume His role and become the savior of mankind and their needs, you will burn yourself out and will find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated with the very people you are trying to serve. Clearly define to people what you can do for them and what you cannot. Be honest with the people you serve, your God and yourself. Share not only what God has given you physically, but also share with those you are helping what He is doing spiritually. Then they too can come to know Him and trust Him to meet their needs.
  5. When you encounter community problems bigger than your ability to serve, don’t run from them or make excuses for not responding to them – Take them to the Lord in earnest prayer. Seek Him for an answer. Sometimes He will say wait, other times He will show you exactly what to do, like He did when I asked Him how to respond to the 1980 Heat Crisis. God told me to buy as many window fans as possible to distribute to senior citizens in danger of heat stroke throughout Missouri and Illinois. Even as I stepped out in faith and ordered the fans, I received the first check in the mail from someone who wrote, “please use to purchase fans.” The check was for several thousand dollars. Each year NLEC continues to provide “Fans for Life” to senior citizens and those with acute medical problems.
    After praying concerning the low-income and elderly people’s inability to pay their gas bills, I felt God leading me to initiate “Dollar Help” with the cooperation of the local gas company, whereby people have the opportunity to add one dollar to their gas bill to help those who are struggling. Each year hundreds of thousands of dollars are raised through this program to help the needy pay their gas bills. The increased amount of human need in our communities at the same time that government cutbacks are taking place – dictates that every one of us implement that faith in Jesus Christ that we so readily speak of. As the Word of God says, “Faith without works is dead.” Such dead self-centered faith leaves thousands to freeze in their unheated homes or to die quietly on the streets of cities all over America. How can this continue to happen when James 1:27 says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

All God asks of us is to take that first step, to reach out even in some small way to our brothers and sisters in need with His love. As the song says, “Our ‘little’ becomes much, when we place it in the Master’s hands.” The time to step out and help the hurting in our community is now!

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