Aleppo in America
The images of war torn Aleppo are heart wrenching. Children wearing blood stained clothing being pulled from piles of rubble. Videos going viral of civilians begging for their lives, pleading for someone to step in and save them. Sadly, there isn't much else we can do for them here in the states but send relief aid and prayer their way. It's easy to stand up and send support overseas. The media is showing us in real time what its like to live in Aleppo. But sending prayer and even money makes you only remotely involved. I am not demeaning anyone's sacrifice they make for money this time of year to send to Aleppo or the fact that your heart has been turned towards them at all. They need prayer and relief and deserve it just as much as anyone else.
But there are currently 25 children in DHS custody here in Tulsa, with no home to wake up in on Christmas morning.
The Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless sees approx 305 people per day on average, not counting the number of people turned away every night because there aren't enough beds.
There are 304 Nursing Homes in Oklahoma with occupants who won't see a single family member for Christmas.
No, our country is not remotely close to being torn apart by raids of war (although some politicals would disagree) But, We cannot be outraged by Aleppo all the while ignoring the needy right here in our backyard. Foster children, the homeless, the sick and infirm, their lives have all been shattered to some degree.
We, as the church, have an enormous responsibility to clothe and feed the needy. It's more than offering up a prayer at night, sending a check to a relief fund every month or sharing a news story on Facebook. We are responsible for being the literal hands a feet of Jesus.
Can you imagine what would happen if we all, every single one of us, took a plate of cookies to the nursing home this Christmas and sat to visit with someone? Or if we slowed down and gave a granola bar, a bottle of water and a pair of socks to the homeless man begging on the corner?
It doesn't matter if you have seen that man twice now at the same stop. It doesn't matter they have no plans to get a job anytime soon. It. Doesn't. Matter.
The consistency you show them in your giving is key. You are not enabling people to stay in their impoverished state by giving them one meal. Poverty is more than a socioeconomic status, it's a state of mind and it's a very hard cycle to break. Can you imagine if we only gave meth addicts a one night stay in a rehab facility? If you can't change your mind to get out of poverty after one meal, you can't cut it. Most people won't even decide to follow Jesus in salvation after one chance at an alter. Can you imagine if that's all we were allowed?
A lot of us will spend time, in the coming weeks, penning goals on paper for 2017. Relationship goals. Money goals. House goals. Car goals. Parenting goals. What about goals that are centered around others? What about Giving goals? How can we give bigger and better in 2017 without expecting a single thing in return? Who can we bless and when can we bless them? A $5 gift card left in the diaper aisle for a mother who's struggling. Taking your clothes to a day shelter for battered women rather than to Goodwill. Coats for kids in DHS custody. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or Night Light Tulsa. Writing letters to Human Trafficking victims. Donating items to James Mission - a non profit that helps orphans, foster children, widows and displaced families in need of assistance.
The ways above are just cracking the surface of what we can do. And we CAN do it. Sacrifice one hour of netflix on the weekend and see what you can do with it. One hour out of the 168 we are given every week.
Will you join me in more than just a prayer for the needy? Will you step up and get involved and give outside yourself in the new year?
If you are interested in starting today Church on the Move has a number of Christmas outreaches we will be doing this weekend. Follow the link to get involved.
Merry Christmas and much love in the New Year!