"Why are we spending billions for that disaster when our own country has so many problems?"
That was the question, for the most part, that I overheard today at my local gym. The reference of course was the Tsunami relief effort in Southeast Asia. Relief and humanitarian groups are reporting record contribution amounts. The world is responding in a big way.
But was the question from 2 treadmills over in reference to the average person opening their checkbook to help, or to the US Government's contribution and involvement to date? Not sure (I assume it was a shot at the government...), but I'm not sure it matters either. It's clear that the devastation has stirred something within us unlike anything else in recent history, and for many the only thing we know to do is give. And we've done so to the tune of $600 million dollars thusfar (worldwide totals for major relief organizations).
Where I grew up, I always heard that there was more than one way to skin a cat. (I know, "as long as the cat gets skinned, does it matter how its done?" etc...fill in your own joke here, and please know I'm not advocating cat skinning, so hold your comments...) But the bottom line is this: help is needed, and its coming from both the private sector (you and I) and our government, as well as other nations and individuals around the world. And the bottom line will hopefully be accomplished - others are helped.
But that brings us back to home. What are we doing on our own soil, whereever that might be, to help those that need it? Sure, there are government programs in place that help people. But is the task being accomplished? Certainly not.
The Church should be stepping up to the plate. We've done a fair job of staking our claim and telling people that "Jesus is the answer." That may put people's problems in a new light, but does it alleviate them? Does it pay childcare costs for the single mom who desperately needs to keep her job? Does it put food on the table for the millions of Americans who go without? Does it provide shelter for those who have no place else to go?
I believe that Jesus IS the answer. But I also believe that the Church being the Church, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, etc. is the way that people experience Jesus being the answer!
It's both here AND there. The Church should lead the way in meeting needs and ministering to people both here and abroad. "If anyone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need and refuses to help -- how can God's love be in that person?” (1 John 3:17, NLT) “When you did it to these my brothers you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:40, LB) “If you feed those who are hungry and take care of the needs of those who are troubled, then your light will shine in the darkness, and you will be bright like sunshine at noon." (Isaiah 58:10, NCV) I looked; these verses have no geographical limitations.
(I know these pics have been published & seen widely, but they are a fascinating testimony of the power of the Indian Ocean tragedy...http://homepage.mac.com/demark/tsunami/2.html)
(Looking to give to the Tsunami relief effort? Lots of good agencies. I'm a big fan of World Vision. They were in Indonesia and affected countries long before the devastation, and will be there long after...you can contribute on their site at www.worldvision.org)
(Looking to give to help folks here? Check out Christian Center Rescue Ministries, an inner-city ministry that is doing some great work to help people; you can contribute on their site, or send donations to a listed address- http://www.ccrescue.homestead.com/)