This week the blog is sponsored by Children’s Hunger Fund (CHF), a nonprofit seeking to “deliver hope to suffering children by equipping local churches for gospel-centered mercy ministry.” Serving in the United States and 29 other countries, CHF seeks to help the local church reach suffering children and families in their communities with both physical help and spiritual hope found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What do you think a believer’s response to poverty should be?
Is it to hand out cash to those asking for money outside the grocery store? Is it sponsoring a child in a faraway country—a photo of them pinned to your fridge?
In the Bible, we see God’s love and care for the poor and suffering. In Psalms 146, the psalmist writes that the Lord who made heaven and earth is the One who “executes justice for the oppressed and who gives food to the hungry.”
Scripture is also clear that believers must share God’s heart for the suffering and that we are to be generous (Luke 12:33), to love and care for the orphan and the widow (James 1:27), and to take up the plight of the suffering (Isaiah 1:17).
However, with so many needs, at home and around the world, it can be hard to know what to do and where to start.
Cultivating a biblical response to poverty doesn’t start with what you do, but how you think.
While material poverty is a massive issue in our world, we know that spiritual poverty is an even worse problem.
Material poverty refers to when a person lacks the basic needs for survival, such as food, water, shelter, or medical care. Spiritual poverty, however, refers to a person’s relationship with the Lord. While both material and spiritual poverty are a result of the fall, only one can be remedied here on earth.
One truth of living in a fallen world is that there will always be physical poverty. However, we know that a saving relationship with Jesus Christ can free a person from spiritual poverty and give them hope, no matter what their circumstances are.
We also know that God cares about the wellbeing of His children. Just look at Matthew 6! Our Heavenly Father knows our needs and reminds us that He will supply them.
Not only are we called to care for those who are in need, but it is a privilege to be a part of God providing for His children. That is why a healthy view of mercy ministry includes physical and spiritual needs.
One of our partners, Dr. Conrad Mbewe, Pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, recently said, “sin has not just separated us from God, but it has also ruined our actual interpersonal relations and ruined our relationships with creation itself… (mercy ministry) is an opportunity, therefore, to reach out to a suffering people so that may see that the God about whom we are speaking is a God who cares for them holistically.”
The local church is the best instrument to respond to poverty.
Since it is a holistic ministry which involves caring for physical health as well as spiritual health, reaching those in poverty with the gospel is not a one-time work. A biblical response to poverty must be about people, and people grow when they are in relationship with others.
Mercy itself is not the end goal of this ministry, a life changing relationship with Christ is the goal! The local church is, therefore, the best possible instrument to respond to poverty. The body of Christ, who are grounded in the community and living life among the people have the best ability to build lasting, consistent relationships with those in need.
This is why Children’s Hunger Fund works through the local church. We know that it is God’s instrument on earth, and we exist to support as many gospel-centered local churches as possible.
We are called to participate in God’s work.
We may not be able to be a part of a local church delivering food in Ethiopia, Myanmar, or El Salvador, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t called to be a part of the work around the world.
At Children’s Hunger Fund, just 25 cents can provide a meal to a child in need. Just 25 cents can provide a child an opportunity to know the love of Christ. For just 25 cents, you can help deliver the hope of the gospel to suffering children.
You can find out more about the ministry of Children’s Hunger Fund here! Make sure you sign up for our email newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up to date with the amazing things God is doing at home and around the world.