The following question was submitted by a Bright Hope Ally. Meggie, from Virginia, asks:
What are the three best things I can do personally to help the poor and give them hope?
Thanks, Meggie, great question. Tough question, when you consider the extreme poor are in difficult to reach places, far from the U.S. and Canada, and face many different types of challenges.
When I was growing up, people would send containers full of donated supplies to missionaries, sometimes useful things, many times, not so much.
I remember one pastor telling me how they would get such run-down equipment and worn out clothing. He lamented about the cost of the container and how that money could have been better spent to actually help people.
Then, in the 80s and 90s, it became fashionable to “go” on short-term mission trips. Churches sent hundreds of people on one- and two-week trips to paint, build, and “play” with needy children. Not a bad experience for the “sent” people, but sometimes they would leave behind an in-country church more reliant more on the Western church than on God and His plan for them.
Having learned from the past, I want to guide you into doing things and spending time in a way that will really change lives and make them better.
If we truly want to help the neediest in the world, we must take on an attitude of service, like Jesus did. So, these suggestions might not be the answers you were expecting or desiring. They aren’t flashy. But I can say without a doubt that lives will be changed, and according to scripture, God will reward you.
How can I help the poor?
1.Pray for the poor
The power of prayer is often overlooked because we don’t know how to pray specifically for the poor. I love that Bright Hope is prayer encourager. We have built a website prayer wall and a texting prayer team where, just a few times a month, you get specific prayer requests and praises about what is happening right there in the field.
As a sign on my desk says: “prayer is the best wireless connection.”
2. Give regularly
Have you ever wondered why God created so many festivals for the Jewish people? Or why the Sabbath was so revered and even punishable by death if not followed? These were put into the calendar by God so that Jews would remember what God had done for them and to help people reflect on their following of Him. These festivals and commandment were “rituals,” like communion or the Lord’s supper is for us today. They help us remember.
Signing up for Bright Hope’s Monthly giving program, Radiant, or if you are on a tight budget, Impact, allows you to regularly invest in helping the poor. But it also reminds you how blessed you and your family have been. Monthly videos for Radiant members, and monthly emails for Impact member emails, show just how your gifts are being used to help lift people out of poverty and will remind you to pray for the poor.
3. Start a relationship with the poor
With the advent of email, Facebook, and other social media, having a relationship with the extreme poor is getting easier. To be honest, Bright Hope is still exploring and inventing new ways to build this type of relationship. Our prayer wall and invitation to share your own prayer requests in Radiant member’s special Facebook group, is a recent example.
Crossing cultural and language differences is hard, but we know as you get to know our partner churches and the pastors and people benefiting from your gifts, their lives and struggles and victories get inside you. It should be, and maybe one day it will be possible, that you can to use your spiritual giftedness directly for the extreme poor. But this is a slow and careful road to travel, so join us for the journey and see what God has in store for you and for Bright Hope in the years to come.
Helping the poor is at the very core of God’s heart. So, the question you are asking is blessed by Him.
The question now is, “What are you going to do about it?”
*Have another question for Bright Hope about poverty or how to minister to the extreme poor? Send your questions here: firstname.lastname@example.org