I have been asked about what our church does to help the poor. So, I've decided to answer the question in four ways:
A.What our church (the non-profit organization) does FINANCIALLY to help the poor.
B.What our church (the non-profit organization) does WITH OUR TIME AND EFFORT to help the poor.
C.What our church (the individual people) do FINANCIALLY to help the poor
D.What our church (the individual people) do WITH OUR TIME AND EFFORT to help the poor.
Ok so, here are the answers:
A. What our church (the non-profit organization) does FINANCIALLY to help the poor
Good News Church gives away 10% of all the money that it receives in donations. Some of that goes to missions (like ministries that spread the good news of Jesus Christ), some of that goes to mercy (like helping the poor) and then, of course, there is a lot of overlap. For instance, if we support some missionaries in another country who run a Christian orphanage, that would be both mercy and missions. So, as I am looking over our financial documents, it shows that we gave away over $20,000 in the last year (from Sept 2013 to Aug 2014 ) that went to some sort of ministry for the poor. Ministries and people that we've supported include:
- Interfaith (iesmarion.org) - ministry that provides services like food, shelter, and medicine to the poor of Marion County.
- Royal Family Kids Camp (ocala.royalfamilykids.org) - camp for foster kids sponsored by our church.
- Tony and Tracey Herrera (sifministries.org) - missionaries, now attending Good News, who were working with orphans in Haiti (among other things) last year.
- Compassion International (compassion.com) - well known ministry that helps children in poverty in third-world countries.
- Living Water International (water.cc) - Christian organization that provides clean water to people in third-world countries.
- Ken and Wendy Kebrdle (facebook.com/WearGloves) - Ocala missionaries who work with the homeless.
- Love, Inc. (loveincheartofflorida.org) - a ministry in south Marion county that helps low-income people.
B. What our church (the non-profit organization) does WITH OUR TIME AND EFFORT to help the poor
At this time, we partner with one ministry to put on a summer camp for children who've experienced neglect/abuse. I consider this to be our church's annual missions trip. Every year during the spring and summer I try to recruit lots of volunteers from our church to serve at this camp. This camp is a little like VBS on steroids! We stay out at a campground all week long, having fun, playing games, and showing these kids a great time. The goal is to create positive memories to counteract some of the negative memories they've had. Each morning the Bible is taught in a chapel-like service, and the gospel is proclaimed to the students. If you'd like to volunteer, contact them at ocala.royalfamilykids.org.
We realize that it would be possible to get Good News Church (the non-profit organization) officially involved in sponsoring many other organizations like this. But at this time, we have chosen to focus on this one.
C. What our church (the individual people) do FINANCIALLY to help the poor
These last two categories are a little different. You see, so far I've been using the word "church" to mean the non-profit organization. But the Bible uses the word "church" usually to refer to a group of Christians. What that means is that if Heidi Villella or Charis Bickhart give money to an organization that ministers to the poor, or if the Dehart/Hawk community group volunteers for an organization that ministers to the poor, then those are also ways that Good News serves the poor. Because Good News is made up of individual people.
But this is very difficult to measure. There are more than 300 people who attend Good News and I don't know all of those people personally. And of the many I do know personally, I am not aware of all the things they do with their money.
So, instead of trying to give you a report for this category, let me instead give you an encouragement. This is actually something that I shared with my community group earlier this year:
We (my wife and I) think it's a good idea to have a budget, and to create a line-item in that budget called "compassion" or "mercy" or something like that. And that line item indicates money that you set aside each month, not to spend on yourselves, but simply to help out someone else. If in January you have a friend who is a single mom who is having a hard time making ends meet, and her car breaks down, you could use January's money to pay her repair bill. If in February, you hear about a family where the dad was just diagnosed with cancer and is given six months to live, you can give February's money to them for medical expenses. If in March, you don't hear of anyone in need, you can give it to an organization like Interfaith or Weargloves. We think it could be a community-changing sort of thing, if the Christians in Marion County, set aside money on a regular basis just to help other people. Please consider adding this to your personal budget this year.
D. What our church (the individual people) do WITH OUR TIME AND EFFORT to help the poor
Like the category before this one, this is a tough one to measure. I know of people in our church who volunteer at the Women's Pregnancy Center, Love Inc, Interfaith, etc. and I'm also quite sure that there are countless instances of Christians informally helping out other people in need without doing it through an official charity. So, let me just throw this out there as a consideration. If you know of a great organization that does what Jesus would want done, consider helping them out with your time. If you know of a situation where you could help out (perhaps a family that isn't very fun to be with, but they sure could use your affection and concern) then do consider making that a part of your mission in doing God's will on this earth.