Our economy is not in the best condition right now. If you are casually paying attention to the news, political debates, food prices and the gas pump, then you know that the buying power of the dollar is pretty impotent. Tied up in our economy are the lack of job opportunities and the lack of jobs that provide an adequate wage for persons to maintain and acquire basic necessities such as rent, food and utilities. Our economy is fighting to stand upright and within that fight, there are Americans in the South who are struggling to get on their feet before they are KO’d.
The last few months, my cell phone and our office have been inundated with calls from men and women of our city needing financial assistance to address their most vital needs. They are in need of provision. They are men and women on very fixed incomes, small unemployment checks, and part-time jobs at the elementary schools and under the table construction jobs where bosses have reneged on payment for long hours of work.
This is the reality of many people in the city of Conway. They want to remain in their homes. They want their water and electricity to continue to flow in their homes. These are the facts on the ground and what I hear from them in our discussions is the echo of Jesus prayer, “Lord give us this day our daily bread.”
That’s right...I believe they are crying out to God for provision, to see his will accomplished on earth as it is in heaven. How is this will to be accomplished? It is to be accomplished through his people-the Church.
See what is going on here in Conway is that C.A.P.C.A. is out of funds to assist with rent and utilities. The Salvation Army has no funds to assist with rent and utilities. Each call has the same resounding statement, “No one is able to help us.”
My question is, “Where are the people of God?”
The people of God that gather in the many congregations across Conway need to consider with all thoughtfulness the stewardship and distribution of their financial offerings. With an excess of one-hundred and fifty churches throughout the city of Conway, there is no reason as to why the needs of the poor cannot be addressed in a loving and systematic manner. Our current economy in my estimation is requiring local churches to seriously reconsider the manner in which they are using their finances. If we continue to elevate the message of Christ sacrifice and are not willing to sacrifice our finances; we are in danger of blaspheming the God we claim to so passionately pursue.
I hear the objections already; “We will be taken advantage of.” “They are misusing their money.” “It’s not our responsibility.” These objections would hold water if they came from men and women who did not understand grace. These objections would be solid, if they came from men and women who were able to secure their own salvation. Yet that is not the case. We are persons that take advantage of the grace of God on a daily basis. We misuse our blessings and it was not the responsibility of God to deal with our sin. That is the beauty of the Gospel and the powerful wonder of the God who has redeemed men and women who were sinfully impoverished. Therefore, since we are men and women clothed in the wealthy of God’s righteousness and have a super-abundance of his grace flowing from our pockets, let us be the people of God who demonstrate the impact of that work by freely giving to alleviate the financial suffering of others.
This is the prophetic hope for the churches in the South regarding their giving.