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Ways to Help the Poor

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By Perry Marshall

As we think about the poor, the abused, the helpless...what can our compassion accomplish for them?

A lot. It takes just a few minutes with the news to know the needs in the slums, the refugee camps, the AIDs orphans. No individual can solve the world's needs. But perhaps we could do something.

Here are some ideas.

the poor, help the poorOne great way to help is through micro-loans. One recipient was Paul Mungai, who runs a cobbler shop in Kenya. Ironically, Paul cannot walk without crutches, yet he knows how to make and fix shoes. And he knows how to run a business.

He started with just $50 of seed money, and now has, by Kenyan standards, a sound business. He's feeding his family, he's paying his rent, his kids have uniforms to wear to school, and everyone in his care has enough to live on.

There's a gleam in his eye, because Paul knows that there is only one path out of poverty. Entrepreneurship and business success. Many are willing to learn a skill and be self-sufficient. They just need a small boost to get started, which micro-loans provide.

Micro-loans allow people to begin vegetable gardens, or farms, or purchase sewing machines to start a clothing business.

Another approach might be for you to actually go to a third-world country. Maybe for a short time, maybe longer. See if you could help on a grassroots, local level. If you can't go, maybe you could help those who do go.

Some organizations can match up a person's knowledge or skills with places that need it. People can help with medical care, construction, electricity, digging wells, business practices, assisting AIDS orphans. Or perhaps through on-the-ground education and mentoring.

the poor, help the poorIf they knew about it, there are Africans who can solve many of their own nutrition problems with plants and herbs already growing there. Literally. Nutritionists could show them that the Moringa trees growing in their back yards have seven times more vitamin C than oranges, four times more vitamin A than carrots, four times more calcium than milk, three times more potassium than bananas and almost as much protein as an egg.

There are numerous ways we can make a difference.

Our compassion can be profound.

What we do can be profoundly important. We can help pave the road that leads from poverty to success. We can help create the ingenuity and jobs and wealth that makes good medical care possible.

We can create a world that has enough to eat, a world where even welfare kids in housing projects get three square meals a day.

It requires courage. My wife and I made this commitment to each other when we got married: If we could find the finances, each year, at least one of us would take a trip to a third-world country and help in some way. We've been able to do that, for about eight years now, in the slums of the most destitute areas of the world.

the poor, help the poorIt's never easy. When I feel trepidation about something I'm planning to do, it's usually because it's important. You usually don't feel fear about doing trivial things.

One time we met a family in one of the poorest areas of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Their home was a concrete and brick structure with seven-foot ceilings, about 10 by 20 feet. In that space was a bathroom with a toilet and shower, a kitchen and two bedrooms. It used to be plywood, but they had poured cement walls over a period of time.

There were holes in the walls, no glass in the windows, and it was simply a stark, cold dwelling. In the kitchen (about six-feet square) there was a sink, a stove and a washing machine with a naked lightbulb hanging from the ceiling.

When you go to a place like that, you are honoring the fact that some things are more important than 'my little agenda.' You are getting outside of yourself.

Or, spend a day with kids or parents who are dying of AIDS. You don't come back home and say, "My Latte is too foamy!"

You get to see the world as God might see it.

God can guide us in helping the poor

He tells us, "...share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter; when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood...and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always..."1

We are imperfect people. But God calls us to bring kindness into the darkness. Freedom to those enslaved by others. To care for the poor, the homeless, the diseased, and the desperate.

Jesus said, "Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."2

Ask God to begin a relationship with you, and to lead you, fully capable into the life and purpose he created for you to experience.

Some relief organizations you can check out. Our intent is not to compile an exhaustive list, but to simply give you a start in expressing your God-given compassion to others. (EveryStudent.com does not gain anything from listing these for you.)

  • Compassion
  • Global Aid Network
  • International Crisis Aid
  • International Justice Mission
  • Kiva
  • Samaritan's Purse
  • The Salvation Army

Why do we feel compassion toward others? What motivates us? Please see: Acts of Kindness

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Footnotes: (1) Isaiah 58:7,10 (2) John 14:21

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