Thursday, December 25, 2008

Reverse Economics

The media has been coming out in droves, lately. The Portland Mercury did a short piece on Anawim and then a longer one on Diver, one of our folks. NPR interviewed Jeff Strong on "Day to Day". And now the Oregonian is doing a piece on Anawim. It's time for our 15 mintues, I guess.

But one of the more popular questions we've been asked is how the recession has effected us as a ministry. Has it been harder to get donations? Has our economic outlook been bleaker since the recession?

First of all, officially, the U.S. has been in a recession for a year, according to official channels in Washington D.C. See here:
So we would have to be talking about our economics over the last year, not just the last few months. And I would say that in general, ministries to the homeless and the working poor have really been struggling, somewhat over the last year, and certainly now. I just heard about a homeless shelter who lost a large grant due to the economic downturn, and we will see a lot more of that. I note that the government bailouts are all going for the big industries, but not to the homeowners losing their homes. Charity begins at the executive level, I guess.

But the fact is, Anawim has been doing really well this year. We called for more donations in order to rent a large facility two days a week, and people have responded. God has stirred people's hearts to grant money to us so we could (just barely) pay the 500 dollars a month so hundreds of people a week could have a meal and a warm place to worship God and learn about God's word. We've been getting more people this year-- a LOT more people. But we've been able to meet all these needs without care. Every week, we have just enough food and space to meet all the needs.

This can be attributed to two things:
First of all, God's amazing provision. Because we depend on God for our supply, He knows what we need and provides it. No doubt that Matthew 6:25-33 is alive and well, if we would just rely on Him.

But there is another aspect as well.

You see, Anawim isn't a ministry to the homeless and the mentally ill. Rather, we are a community OF the homeless and mentally ill. In any community, we share resources, and assist each other. And, as in all communities, the greater the base of those sharing resources, the more resources are available for all. Thus, we are doing well because more people are ending up on the street. The more people who feel that they really are Anawim-- those desperate for God to grant them provision-- and that they are really a part of the community of the poor who has responsibility not only to recieve but to give, the more resources we have to share to all.

Nope, none of us individually have very much. We are all poor. But the community of the poor is a sharing, giving community. Thus, the more poor there are, the better off the community of the poor is.

Blessed are you who are poor, says Jesus, for yours is the kingdom of God. And the economics of that kingdom is visited upon earth among the poor who follow Jesus' principles of giving to the poor.

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