3371 Chattanooga Valley Road Flintstone GA 30725 706.820.2833

3371 Chattanooga Valley Road Flintstone GA 30725 706.820.2833

Friday, February 17, 2012

ADDC Faith & Finances Training

ADDC will be holding a Faith & Finances Facilitator Training! If you are interested, contact Jerilyn Sanders to RSVP at jerilyn.sanders@chalmers.org. Hope for NWGA highly recommends this training. Director Heather Prettyman attended last year (see widow)!

Saturday, 2/25 8:30 am - 3:30 pm 
Lunch is included!
Location:  St. Andrews Center, 1918 Union Avenue, Chattanooga 37404

Friday, February 10, 2012

58: Fast. Forward. A Big Mess

I recently stumbled upon a movement called 58: Fast. Forward. The End of Poverty.

Okay, I'll admit it. I was wasting time on Facebook, once again, when I noticed a non-profit linked with Isaiah 58. At first, I got excited. Here at Hope for Northwest Georgia, we are constantly arriving back at the Isaiah 58 passage in our many dialogues regarding how to help the poor effectively in our communities. However, when I clicked on the link and learned more about the 58 movement, I was anything but pleased.

Scott Todd, the leader of this movement, shared in a 8 minute video (see facebook if you wish to watch the video for yourself) about a vision to eradicate poverty.  He cited the Matthew 26 passage where Jesus is anointed with expensive perfume by a woman. In the passage, the disciples express anger and frustration at this seeming waste of finances. Jesus replies "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me." Scott Todd interprets that it was actually Judas, the greedy tax collector who was angry, and that Jesus was not talking generally, but just to Judas. In so doing, he eliminates the validity of Jesus' claim that the poor will always be with us. Mr. Todd says that God does not wish for people to die of disease and hunger, but that Christians should give of their finances.

 Here is the problem. In looking over the 58 website,  I was unable to find any instances of relationship or contextual giving of oneself to people living in poverty. It was all about finance. Yes, there were plenty of stories of individuals who raised money and gave to 58 to make a difference. ...but did they have any interactions with the poor people living in their own community? Did they reach out to the single mom living on their street who they knew was having a tough time making rent each month? Did they wrestle with how to spend their time -with friends with whom they were quite comfortable, or with a group of somewhat smelly strangers with whom they had almost nothing in common?

In countless passages, the Bible calls us to care for the poor. YES, financially, but with so much more of ourselves! To give of our vast financial resources is only the beginning, and for most, it is a cop-out. What is easier, putting a dollar in the hand of the homeless beggar, or stopping on the cold street for a conversation? 1 Corinthians 13:3 tells us that, if we give all of our finances and put ourselves through much hardship.... but do it out of something other than love, IT IS WORTHLESS. 

Additionally, I cannot ignore the short-sightedness of a mission that throws finance and material possessions at those living in poverty. Yes, I agree that someone living in an area with high levels of malaria needs a mosquito net. But am I really solving their poverty by flying half way across the globe to hand them one? When I turn my back on them to return home, what message am I sending? If I ignore all the other vast and complicated aspects of their poverty, what good will it do? And if I walk away smiling at my own generosity, what damage have I done in ignoring my own poverty?

So when I look at the mission of 58 with its call to giving, to prayer, and to fasting, I am left wanting more. I applaud what I see as the beginning of something beautiful. Yes, God calls us to give, to pray on behalf of those in need, and even to fasting... but He also tells us that these are worthless without the love that comes from God. I believe this great love that we have in Christ begs to be shared in tangible, meaningful ways. It will be difficult, time consuming, frustrating... and yet so, so rewarding. Because the love we share... even in the smallest of ways- this is our chance to love as He first loved us. And that love, after all, is really what it is all about.