Poverty is Africa’s biggest industry. Every year, $ billions flood into Africa in the form of government and privately funded charity. Hundreds of thousands of short-term missionaries, doctors, educators, and aid workers fly in to do what they can for some of the poorest people in the world.
The Bible says much about the poor, and our responsibilities towards them. One thing I have noticed is that there is a class of poor and destitute who simply need immediate, unconditional intervention.
Recall the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30). A man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead on the road. Two “pious” fellows passed by and did nothing. But the Samaritan acted. He did not investigate why the man was on the road in the first place. For all the Samaritan knew, the victim could have been a thief himself who was successfully repelled by a caravan he attempted to rob. The Samaritan simply saw that a man needed help, felt compassion, and acted.
Remember when Jesus and His disciples approached a blind man, and the Apostles wanted to know if the man was blind because of his sin or the sin of his parents? (John 9:2). What did Jesus say in response? He said, “Neither.” The man was blind, so that in God’s Providence, His glory would be revealed through this man’s disability. Jesus then healed the man.
But there are also other ways of handling the poor in the Bible. Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth were impoverished. So they took advantage of the “welfare safety net” in Israel at the time. The poor were allowed by law to follow behind the harvesters in a field and glean what crops were not picked. Also, the corners of fields were not harvested specifically with the poor and hungry trailers in mind.
This was not unconditional charity. It required the poor to work for what they received.
Later in the story, the young widow Ruth approached her cousin, Boaz, and asked him to do his duty as a kinsman to marry her, which was a principle in the Law. Boaz agreed to “go to court” as it were, and fight for Ruth’s rights. When the nearest kinsman refused to marry Ruth, Boaz agreed to do the job himself. This is a beautiful story of love and sacrifice to help those in need. It is a picture of Christ redeeming His bride. In fact, Christ Himself descended from the lineage of Boaz and Ruth.
What all these examples show is that giving and dealing with the poor must be done with wisdom and sacrifice. In some cases, the poor need unconditional help. In other cases, the help is given with conditions.
But in both cases, the presence of love, compassion, and advocacy is always present.
Persecution Project Foundation has several program categories that are modeled after what we believe are Biblical patterns for giving. We have funds that focus on “crisis relief” and medical needs. These are designed for the “Samaritan” type need where the victims are lying in the road needing immediate assistance.
But we also have programs for clean water and discipleship and evangelism. These programs require participation from the people we are trying to help. The activities promoted in these programs seek to build people up, build relationships, and to help those in need eventually become givers themselves.
Clean water is not just about digging wells. Providing a dependable water source to a poor community opens the door for agricultural initiatives that lead to greater and cheaper food production. This brings self-sufficiency, wealth and greater health to a formerly impoverished community.
Discipleship and evangelism is not just about Bible studies. It opens the door for teaching and mentoring that go beyond the “lifeboat” salvation message that focuses on getting an initial profession of faith from a convert. It equips the new believer for the rest of his life.
PPF’s Transportation and Logistics fund is not just about paying for the transportation of relief items to get them from point A to point B. It opens the door for vocational training programs that help the poor and persecuted overcome three of their most difficult challenges: isolation, lack of infrastructure, and getting their products to market.
Our desire at PPF is to give — but to give wisely. That sometimes means giving like the Samaritan. At other times, it means giving like Boaz. As you pray for the ministry of PPF, please pray that God will continue to give us wisdom in how to give, so that His Name is glorified and people are changed — including us!