If you noticed an absensce of articles the month of June, it's because I was visiting my missionary daughter in Peru.
I was working alongside as they prepared for a mega-event that would attract more than 10,000 Peruvians to the event, and see 1,000 of them accept Christ as the Lord of their heart for the first time.
I visited shelters for children who have had babies without fathers and are outcasts of society, children who have been deserted by their parents, homes for troubled boys, retirement centers, prisons, anywhere in Arequipa and Cusco where people needed to be shown the love of Christ.
As I looked around the cities I saw much poverty, yet much strength. Strength to survive unsurmountable circumstances. Hunger for something more to cling to than what they are taught - you must earn your way to Heaven. They've never heard the word Grace.
Coming home was a bit of culture shock. Flushing your toilet paper instead of putting it in a can by the toilet, hot showers instead of cold, American food, apathy.
Rich Mullins once spoke at Wheaton College and said, "You guys are all into that born again thing, which is great. We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy too... [And he paused in the awkward silence.] But I guess that's why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest." WOW! That should cause you to pause.
Tony Campolo once said, "Jesus never says to the poor, 'Come find the church.' but he says to those of us in the church, 'Go into the world and find the poor, hungry, homeless, imprisoned.' Jesus in his disguises."
Mother Teresa told anyone willing to listen, "Calcuttas are everywhere if only we have eyes to see. Find your Calcutta."
I called District Three and a kind beat officer told me about where some of those that need help hang out. We discovered homeless people in Cincinnati, not looking for help, just trying to survive. They somehow understood we weren't there to make ourselves feel good, we came because we cared.
The similarities were striking from Peru to Cincinnati, poverty. Poverty in Cincinnati, a nation where 80% of the population has 20% of the goods. If just the Christians gave up some of their material possessions, everyone would have enough.
The city of Cincinnati is cracking down on pan-handling, passing a new ordinance which went into effect June 3rd. This is an extremely controversial topic. Sure, as with anything, people take advantage of a system, and there are pan-handlers that go home to nice houses. But those that just sit with their sign, like my friend Teresa, will not have money for necessities should we continue down the path Council is heading. There are too many others, just like her, that have no where to go.
Homelessness itself in Cincinnati has become controversial, especially after a police officer killed a homeless woman, Joann Burton, with his cruiser July 29th.
Are you aware that the average age of a homeless person in Cincinnati is NINE years old?
Shane Claiborne states, "It's not that Christians don't care about the poor, they just don't know any poor people."
Do we Christians want to hear about the needs? Are we ready to get our hands dirty helping "the least of these"? Or would we prefer to stay in our protective bubbles and give to a charity every once in a while to make us feel better?
What about you? What about your church or your group? What are you doing? Do you want to get involved but don't know how to help?
Please share your thoughts and feelings in the comments below. I want to hear what's on your mind.
if you'd like to help, you can send contributions directly to the Shiloh church marked, "Namaste". Or we'd love to have you join us at 6:00PM Sunday evenings.
Shiloh is located at
Cincinnati, OH 45238-5299
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