When I moved to Longmont to pastor White Fields, I was 28 years old. I had been pastoring for 7 years, and had a lot more hair (though it was already thinning!)
On March 27, the church surprised me with a celebration I didn’t know was coming. We had cakes and other treats at each service, and they had leaders who were elders in the first few years I was here come up and say a few words and pray for my wife and I.
Of these past 10 years, the last 5 have been particularly enjoyable; working with friends, taking steps of faith, and experiencing good fruit.
We are currently in the midst of a building expansion project, in order to create room for more people to come, hear God’s Word, grow, and be equipped. It’s an exciting time, and I look forward to the future!
Does the Bible encourage people who are poor to ask for help, or does it put the onus on the rich to provide for the poor?
The Bible gives a pretty nuanced view of provision for the poor, which includes both proactive provision for the poor, while still requiring action on the part of the recipient.
For example, in Leviticus 19:9-10, farmers were instructed to leave the corners of their fields unharvested so the poor could come and glean. So while the rich were called to sacrifice some of their profits to provide for the poor, the poor were still required to go and harvest the food for themselves. Rather than giving them flour, for example, those in need were required to harvest grain and grind it into flour themselves. If someone was unwilling to work, in this case, they would not eat – but provision was made for them, via sacrifice on the part of those who had enough, to be able to get what they needed to survive.
A similar sentiment is found in the Epistle to the Galatians, where in Galatians 6:2 it says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” but a few verses later, it says, “Each person will have to bear his own load.” (Galatians 6:5). The difference is that the “burden” mentioned in 6:2 refers to a crushing burden, whereas “load” in 6:5 refers to an individual’s burden of responsibility. So, we are called to help those who are facing burdens they are unable to bear on their own, yet with the goal of helping those people to stand on their own two feet and take responsibility for themselves and their lives.
In 2 Thessalonians 3, we read an interesting passage:
If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12
For some reason, there were people in the Thessalonian church were unwilling to work, and were living off the generosity of others. Some believe that the reason for this attitude is because they believed it was more spiritual not to work, since they expected the imminent return of Jesus. While Paul encouraged them that Jesus could return at any time, they were encouraged to work in order to provide for themselves if they were able. Here again, we see the importance of providing for those in need while at the same time encouraging people to take initiative and responsibility to work if they are able.
So, to answer the question: The onus is first on those who have to help provide for the poor, no matter how or why they became poor. But this generosity is not to be done in order to create dependence, but rather to relieve a burden and encourage responsibility and independence.
Local Resource: Table of Hope Food Pantry
Table of Hope Food Pantry is a ministry which was born out of White Fields Community Church in Longmont, Colorado and serves Southwest Weld County, Longmont, and the surrounding communities by providing residents in need with nutritious food, the ability to become more self-sufficient, and hope for their future.
Table of Hope is open to anyone, no questions asked, and no ID required. For more information about Table of Hope, check out Table-of-Hope.com
Project Greatest Gift works with the Health and Human Services departments of Weld, Adams, and Boulder Counties to provide Christmas gifts, as well as help with groceries and clothing for families in kinship and foster care at this time of the year. This is a practical way we, as the Body of Christ, can show the heart of God and the love of Jesus to those in need in our community.
Last year I sat down with Christine, the founder of Project Greatest Gift, to discuss its origins, the vision behind it, and how God has used it over the past 10+ years. You can watch that discussion in the video below.
You can participate in Project Greatest Gift no matter where you are located since sign-ups for sponsoring children and caretakers are now completely online!
Did you know that children in the foster system form an at-risk people group within our own communities?
In almost every case, the reason these children end up in foster care care is because of an unsuitable home environment, which may involve violence, neglect, drugs, crime, etc. These environments not only result in trauma many times, but they also tend to result in or be associated with poverty. Many foster care situations are kinship care, which means the child is cared for by a relative, which can create a financial burden.
Poverty has a profound impact on a child’s mental and physical well-being. Children living in poverty have higher rates of absenteeism from school. Students who come from low income families are six times more likely to drop out of high school. Adults without a high school diploma are 4 times more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty, which means raising their children in poverty, perpetuating a cycle of poverty which may persist for generations: poverty affects education which affects poverty. (source 1, source 2)
One of the ways that we can help kids break out of this cycle of poverty is by encouraging them to stay in school – and one of the ways we can do that is by helping them have the things they need to be confident and excited about going to school, so they can succeed!
Our church, White Fields Community Church, has a history of ministering to children in the foster system, and five years ago we began a new ministry: Project Back to School.
We are working with Weld County Department of Human Services, and this year they have identified over 100 at-risk kids who need help with school supplies, clothes, and shoes. They have provided us with a list of needed items, which we will share with those who sign up to help.
We are trusting that God will raise up people to bless these families in the name of Jesus. It’s a way for us to love not only in words and in speech, but in action as well (1 John 3:18).
We will be taking sign-ups beginning Sunday, July 4 and asking items to be returned by Sunday, July 25.
How to Get Involved and Make a Difference
1. Sign up in-person
If you live in or near Longmont, visit White Fields Church on a Sunday morning this July and sign up to sponsor one or more children.
2. Sign up online
If you can’t make it on a Sunday morning, but are still local and could drop off items to us for delivery, leave a comment below, or contact the church here.
3. Contribute Financially
All monies that come in designated for Project Back to School will go directly towards buying school supplies for at risk children. You can make a tax-deductible donation on our church’s website here: whitefieldschurch.com/give/ (choose Project Back to School on the drop-down menu).
Join us in praying for these kids, and that God uses this initiative to bless them.
This week I sat down with Christine Appel to discuss the history of Project Greatest Gift, a home-grown ministry that serves kids in kinship and foster care in northern Colorado at Christmastime.
Every year during the month of November, we partner with the Health and Human Services departments of Weld, Adams, and Boulder Counties to provide for children and families in the kinship and foster care systems.
In this interview, Christine tells the story of how Project Greatest Gift got started, the vision behind it, and how God has used it over the past few years.
Importantly, we also discuss what is different this year in 2020, as Project Greatest Gift expands to an online platform.
This Sunday, June 7, will be our first Sunday of in-person services since the COVID-19 pandemic required churches to stop meeting in person. For the past three months we have gone online with our services (you can watch them here) and community groups, but we are excited to begin in-person services in our new building!
Wewillcontinueto provide our services online for those who cannot or should not join us in person, and we are taking precautions according to the guidelines issued by the CDC and the State of Colorado to make sure our gatherings are safe and we spread nothing but love, kindness, hope, and encouragement.
If you are local, there will be a prayer walk around the new building on Saturday, June 6 at 9:00 AM, and we would love to see you there!
Details for our in-person and online worship services:
These will be family services, which means there will be no NextGen classes for kids during service, but we will have a Wiggle Room and a Nursing Mothers Room available for those who need them.
In this video I give a walk-through of our building and share about some of the precautions we are taking:
In this video our NextGen director Michelle Pearl gives some information for family with children, including picking up NextGen lessons, what kids can do during service, and a walk through of the Wiggle Room.
We are so glad to serve the Lord and to serve you, both online and in person!