"Happy are those who consider the poor; the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble." Psalm 41:1
When I was in college I majored in Sociology and Youth Ministries because I wanted to save the world. Shortly before graduating, I realized that social programs do not help people who do not want to change. I also learned that people often fall prey to circumstances beyond their control and suffer grievously despite any help they receive.
I became disillusioned and forgot about working in the realm of social work. I told myself, "social programs do not help people. Only Jesus can help people." Because of this, I put my full effort into the church and later changed my previous thinking to, "social programs do help people, but only Jesus can meet the deep needs of people."
The latter is true. I have found that issues are not black and white, like I once thought they were.
I recently attended the "Bridges out of Poverty" seminar hosted by the Department of Social Services. The content of this seminar, and of a book I am reading called "What Every Church Member Should Know about Poverty" by Bill Ehlig and Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D., have opened my eyes to some of the prejudices I have felt about the poor. These resources have helped me view life from a different perspective.
Social programs are necessary to reach people. As James said, faith without works is dead. However, the problem comes when we, as Christians, think that social programs are the crux of our faith. They are not. Jesus, and his sacrifice, is what our faith is founded upon. Social programs should naturally flow from our churches because of our gratefulness to God for what he has done, and because of our desire to share God's love with other people.
From this perspective, I wonder what would happen if churches forgot their doctrinal differences and united with each other and with various programs in our community in an effort to help? The church is already helping in many ways, but what if the effort were concerted? Could we wipe out poverty in Otero County with God's help? Are all things possible with God? I think that God will bless us if we try to find out.