A question of helping others.
Over Christmas at Reforming Church we collected items and then distributed hampers to those in need. I was approached by several people who wondered how they knew if someone ‘deserved’ to be the recipient of a hamper. I think in answering this question, we need to look at what we were doing: giving a small gift of food/Christmas items to bless people. The aim of it was to give them to people we were already in relationship with, people we knew who were struggling for whatever reason. But what if, you may ask, are they struggling because of their own foolishness, or poor decisions, wouldn’t giving them a hamper encourage that to continue?
My own thoughts on this, from reading, from volunteering and from my social work studies are that a gift, such as a hamper, is a great way to do something nice to help someone. I do not think that this will encourage unwise behaviour in regards to life choices. A question to ask yourself is, “Why do I do something nice for someone?” is the answer necessarily because they deserve it? Or is it because you want to do something nice to help them out?
I think if the project was about long term help, or about doing ‘welfare’ services, like providing emergency food and other such help, then it would involve looking more at the life choices a person is making, and what has lead them to the difficult circumstances they are in. In some cases the most loving thing that can be done for a person is not about giving them ‘handouts’, but rather mentoring and education, about budgeting, about how to get out of debt , and modelling good choices. This encourages people to help themselves, and can improve their circumstances, not just for a moment, but in the long term too. In time, I hope to get the Mercy Ministries at Reforming, to a stage where we can work towards this kind of work with people. For the moment though, we can do small things for people, like giving them a meal, or a hand with other things they are unable to do for themselves, is not about who deserves it and who doesn’t. This is a way that we can reach out to those we know, and show we care and in time to show them that Jesus cares too.
By Dawn Williamson
Dawn is our Mercy Ministry Director, having studied Social Work she is eager to see our church make a meaningful difference to the lives of those around us as the gospel changes hearts and the way we love our neighbour.
You can get in contact with this ministry by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org