Focus: Serve the Poor

My Building Hope job has an interesting balance to it. I work 20 hours at the facility (3831 116 Ave) directly with our friends and I work 15 hours trying to raise support for our cause. This balance allows me to interact with two groups: the needy and the compassionate.

I discussed repentance two weeks ago and this week we had three people repent, but let’s talk about my other 15 hours, the hours I commit to the compassionate. I am trying to locate people that will help us serve the poor. I naturally go to churches as a Christian is called to love and help those in need. I have spoken in 13 different churches in my time at BH and I have seen very generous people who have a heart for the poor. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed a world provide so many unnecessary luxuries to the compassionate and pull them from the true calling of the LORD. Jamie Smith’s book, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation, discusses the heart being the fulcrum of desire. This world offers the compassionate with so much comfort that they turn inward and become selfish. I am trying to focus us again.

This past week I went to a 5 year update on A Place to Call Home: Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. This goal to end homelessness is lofty when considering other communities in the world; but if we focused and put our hearts, minds, souls, and strength to it, how difficult would it be? The Homeless Commission of Edmonton set a goal: “By 2014, develop 1000 units of permanent supportive housing”; and by 2014, we established 466 units. Now I live in this community of Edmonton so I share the responsibility of this failure, but we need to recommit to our goals, refocus our priorities, and try again. There is no reason that a community so blessed with human and natural resources cannot create 1000 units.

The attitude of not in my backyard (NIMBY) must also be challenged in Edmonton. There are real concerns when communities are called to invite the needy into their communities. These concerns must be addressed and brought alongside our concern for the poor. “David Berger with Boyle Street Community Services wants a panel of “independent” Edmontonians to intervene when neighbourhoods oppose new social housing” (CBC – January 18, 2014). I have talked with David and I think an impartial third party, who is knowledgable with the issues, can surely move us toward our goals.

Focus; we need to focus on what is important today. The past is gone and funding museums is not as important as building for the poor; the future is uncertain and building a bunch of RRSPs may never result in worth; so focus on today. At the 5 year interval of a 10 year plan we are failing, but we have another 5 years to recapture that loss. Taking care of the poor does make economic sense when considering policing, justice, shelter, and medical costs associated with the needy, but we are not even beginning to consider the blessing by helping the poor. I am telling you, we need to refocus on the poor. Serve the poor and we will see a difference in our love, love unconditionally and we will see our LORD.

BLOG POST – JesusNext

On the October 28, 2014 blog I presented a simple idea called JesusNext. I suggested that this idea could direct our efforts as Christians and respond  to anything that faced us in this world. Today’s blog is a summary page for this idea. I will refer to this summary sheet in the future, but at this time, it is meant to stimulate thought, evoke action, and create a space to worship our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

 JesusNext

  1. Jesus

  2. Love

JesusNext

  1. Jesus
    • GOD
    • Lord and Saviour
      • John 14:6 “I am the truth the way and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”
  2. Love
    • Everyone; unconditional
      • Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied, “’Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

  • Matthew 5:44 “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

JesusNext

JesusNext: Initial Thoughts to Consider

  1. Simple: Transferable, Translatable, Teachable (measureable), Clear Objective (more Jesus, more love)
  2. Unifying: Non-denominational, concentrate Christian resources, answer to Jesus’ prayer (John 17:11)
  3. Focus on core of Christianity: A base to explain faith, practice faith, and grow in belief
  4. Jesus: Demonstrates, defines, and directs love
  5. Jesus: What gets you to heaven? Who you know or what you do (love)?; Faith vs. works
  6. Love: Greatest Command, All Law and Prophets hang on two commands of love, and Holistic love
  7. Love: Renews our minds from: “Who do I love?” to “How do I love?” ; not judgemental
  8. Love: leads us to Jesus: when we fail to love we need a Saviour to forgive
  9. Love: Rules confuse; More virtuous you are the less rules you will need
  10. Love: Not Heretical (false prophets, chief of priests, teachers of the law, and elders)
  11. Jesus and love (JN): leads to sanctification, discernment, and ultimately heaven
  12. Revival: Power of GOD, through Jesus Christ, may assist us as we follow Him and greatest command
  13. Power: Overcome opposition with strength of Jesus and His greatest command (Romans 8:31-39)
  14. Evangelistic – clear understanding of Who directs our efforts
  15. Eternal: These lessons will be carried to heaven where there will be 100% Jesus and love

BLOG POST – Repentance: True Success

To measure the success of a compassionate ministry such as Building Hope (BH) is difficult, if not impossible. A person who utilizes the services of BH may only need our assistance for a period of time; once they find the inner stability needed to face the world they may move on from BH. A higher number of people attending the centre may mean more in crisis, whereas lower numbers may mean welfare cheques have come out. Measuring success at BH has been hard, but a short time ago a true success story was revealed.

A middle aged man who lives on the street was at the centre one day and made a rude comment to one of our lady volunteers. Volunteers at BH are a true blessing from the LORD, and yet their unconditional love is often challenged by those who have been emotionally hurt. I observed the man, and his comment to the volunteer, and quickly addressed the situation.

I talked with the lady to see if she was okay, and she brushed it off rather casually. I did tell her that that behaviour was not accepted at BH and that I would be talking with the man. I assured her that we (both the compassionate and the needy) care for her and value her service to the poor. I then approached the man.

This gentleman was somewhat large and with two of his friends, but I knew our standard of Jesus and love would see me through. I felt confident to say that, “that type of comment was wrong and our volunteers do not deserve that type of treatment.” He did not deny the comment, but said I misinterpreted the comment. The comment could have been taken two ways, but I knew the comment was used to amuse he and his friends, and so I continued to talk about the comment and how it probably hurt our lady volunteer. This discussion continued on for 2 or 3 minutes and then I decided that I had made my point. At this time, I felt I had defended our standard to love those in the facility, but I did not feel I had reached this individual or changed the behaviour of the facility. However, success sometimes needs a little patience.

Within 5 minutes the individual went to the lady and apologized for his comments.

“Repentance is the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs. It generally involves a commitment to personal change and resolving to live a more responsible and humane life.” Wikipedia

I was so proud of this individual. I did not tell him to apologize, but he did. This man had the humility and the courage to go to this lady, in front of his friends, and try to restore the relationship.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus start their preaching ministry with the words, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). BH provides a place where people can come and be valued. At times we mess that up, but in relationships, success is not in being perfect, but in repentance and grace. We must strive to love perfectly, but when we fail, do we have the courage to repent?

BLOG POST – Let it Begin

In light of the Ottawa happenings this past week, I think we in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada are left to wonder.  Why Michael Zehaf-Bibeau determined to act with violence is unclear (perhaps the “10 Aircraft and 600 soldiers joining the crusade against the Muslims” – al-Kanadi), but we will have to respond and determine how to live with others in our world. In respect of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and his family and friends left behind, I suggest an effort that includes Jesus and love.

Jesus and love are the eternal stabilizing factors that can respond to such violence, and JesusNext is an idea that confronts such actions.

JesusNext

1. Jesus

2. Love

That is it; this is the idea that I believe can face any act of evil. This is the idea that I try to teach anyone who is searching for an answer.

Building Hope Compassionate Association (BH) is a community that serves the needy in Edmonton. Many different problems present themselves at BH, and we, as Christians, are called to respond. On many occasions I search for tangible answers, but I always know, Jesus and love will lead the way.

As a Christian, I believe Jesus is the only way to heaven (John 14:6). Jesus Christ removes the doubt of a works based religion by allowing me to claim His righteousness as He solely assumes the responsibility of my sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). I believe the power of the resurrection is available to me (Ephesians 1:19,20)as I align myself more and more to His greatest command (Matthew 22:36-40). With confidence to stand before my Father in Jesus Christ, I can petition my Father on behalf of the “friends” of BH, and love them in a manner that Christ loved me.

I start this blog with these thoughts as I want to say we live in this world with all people and all sorts problems, but there are real solutions found in Jesus and His greatest command: love. Often we respond to hurt with hurt, but what if we tried another way? What if we responded to hurt with Jesus and love? What if we tried to alleviate the pain of those who surround us with Jesus and love? What if we tried to teach a world, about Jesus and love, through our actions?