Have you ever been to a ghetto?
By Edwin Christiaan
Since coming to the US in 1996, the ministries I raised in Texas and California were always centered around giving, helping, and feeding the poor and the needy. In Houston, my team and I cooked several times a week for the homeless to come and enjoy a wholesome meal, and we were always busy handing out blankets and clothing to anyone who might need them. We had a big room in our headquarters filled with clothing and shoes any needy person could come and pick up items from, for free. In San Diego and Hollywood, we would do the same, and always work faithfully, daily picking up food donations from supermarkets and distributing them to various shelters, to the homeless, the struggling actors and actresses, along with the folks from our church who would need food.
My main drive was always obeying the Word of God out of my love for Him, knowing that God is pleased with anyone who is willing to give alms to the poor, love the dirty and unlovable, and go places nobody really wants to go.
I cannot count the number of times I have ministered to the down-and-outs on the streets, the inmates in jails, and the unfortunate ones, stuck in sin, crime, and poverty in the bad neighborhoods and ghetto’s of America.
What is a Ghetto?
The term ghetto was originally used in Venice, an Italian city, to describe the area where Jews were required to live.
The dictionary described a ghetto as a section of a city occupied by a group who live there especially because of social, economic, or legal pressure. A ghetto, which also is called a hood or barrio, is furthermore described as an overcrowded slum area, often associated with a specific ethnic or racial population, like African Americans, Hispanics, or other minority groups.
A ghetto is inhabited by economically deprived people, and is usually troubled by a large amount of crime and gang activities.
Have you ever been to a ghetto and witnessed the deplorable condition the people are living in? And what are you doing to help them? Jesus Christ said: “You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to.” Mark 14:7 NLT
It is our duty as Christians not to deny helping the poor, and yet, we oftentimes don’t care much for them. Many view the poor as the ones who have brought their poverty upon themselves, as say things like: “You got yourself into this mess; you need to get yourself out” or “Only until they prove themselves worthy or if they are destitute enough, then they can get some help.”
We withhold mercy because we feel the poor needs to prove themselves! How would you feel if God would treat you this way?
We only have to think about the little children in the ghetto who did not choose their family or the destructive ways their parents (or parent, or grandmother, or sibling, or other family members) are raising them up.
There are over 2000 verses in the Bible that describe God’s love and heart for the poor, weak, and the sick. Jesus compares our unconditional love actions of helping the poor and the needy to helping and caring for Him.
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. Matthew 25:35-36 NLT
I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me! Matthew 25:40 NLT
Our goal with this study is to get people thinking beyond themselves, and try to stir in their hearts a deep passion for loving and helping the poor, especially in these difficult economic times.
We need to be ready and willing to provide immediate and long-term relief – helping them manage their life better, find jobs for them, and educate them in social and money skills. This can be done, for instance, through a church or a ministry who has a heart for the poor, or by individual giving. In doing so, we will set a model for Christ’s love!
Copyright©2011 Edwin & Sophia Christiaan