I am still working on finding out how to really help the poor, but I'm not having much luck. Anyway, I thought I would summarize what I've written here and put in some additions about what I'm seeing out there with this evangelical obsession with helping the poor. Again, this is not about not helping the poor. It's about doing it correctly and as an outcome of the Christian life, not a legalistic works program. What I'm seeing is once again, naive, but most of the time well-meaning Christians not helping the poor as much as using them. Our motives must be pure. Trying to get in good with God, assuaging our guilt by helping the poor instead of putting it at the cross in the atonement, working with the poor so we can feel somehow superior.....all of these are the wrong reasons. I call this "pimping the poor."
The "Poor" Industry
There is a whole industry in helping the poor and homeless. What would the situation be if there were no poor or homeless. How many social workers would we need? How many police would we need since crime is more severe in poorer and homeless areas? How many people wouldn't have jobs that pay over $30,000 (and $80,000+ for directors) working for non-profits that get government and private grants helping the poor and homeless? It really isn't in these people's best interests to help the poor, is it, because then they would be out of a job.
Those Not Ready to Help
On another note, we have so many codependent, dysfunctional Christians, no way should they be going out to help anyone, much less the poor. But these are the very people who need to be needed so the poor and homeless are ripe pickings for them.
How to Not Help
I still cannot find any really reasonable writings by Christians (or non-Christians for that matter) on how to help the poor and homeless. The best we seem to do is to feed the homeless so they can be homeless another day. Or, set up programs for the poor that are nice but really never seem to solve the poverty problem except perhaps for a very few individuals. I often wonder if church are really is serious about this, or are they simply trying to fell and look good? We need to stop fooling and lying to ourselves and others. For example, how many times have I read that some Christian is building a house for some poor person (here in America that is). That is an outright lie! Poor people cannot afford the mortgage, taxes, insurance and upkeep. These houses are being built for the lower part of the middle class or for those who are the better-off ones in the lower middle-class. Housing project-welfare folks are not going to be given these houses. (I'm not including here helping to rebuild houses that were destroyed by some disaster).
Maybe This is the Way to Help?
The best way of helping the poor I can find are the three inner city black Word of Faith pastors whose churches bought a fast food franchise and are hiring and training people, not only in their churches, but also in their neighborhoods. And if you think this is insulting--that is, to hire people for fast food--I want you to think more broadly about what type of work many of these inner city people can do for their first job. Also, fast food places hire more than burger flippers. One may need to start there but can move up to cashier, assistant manager, manager, district manager or to other jobs utilizing those skills learned at the fast food restaurant. I am always somewhat amused when churches say they are going to help poor folks write their resumes. What resumes? They don't have anything to put on a resume. "Dropped out of school at 15, had three children and have been on welfare for the past 5 years and in a housing project." That resume? Churches are going to have to be more knowledgeable if they really wish to help the poor. But I am still persuaded that people in the inner city must be the leaders on this and we can assist at their direction. Actually, not all inner city dwellers are jobless and are on welfare. Perhaps we can assist churches (probably financially). But let's get rid of this need to be the "saviors" of the poor. It's really insulting to them.