In this weekly column, local pastors have been asked to write about how the church should address poverty in our community and worldwide. You can learn more about poverty in Hall County at gainesvilletimes.com/poverty.
I am so thankful to be part of a church and community that has such a heart for the underresourced around us.
It’s not just churches that are the source of outward initiatives. The Gainesville/Hall County area is blessed with numerous nonprofit agencies that are motivated to passionately address and engage the suffering in our community.
The initiatives that make the most meaningful impact in under-resourced communities share a similar mindset.
It’s easy to begin with a “have” “and have not” mentality if we are not careful. Unfortunately this can develop into a “we” and “them” attitude. It becomes about what “we” can do for “them.”
Initiatives that begin with this mentality rarely have a significant impact. Truthfully, they expand the disparity.
The foundation for a meaningful ministry is when a person’s value or identity is no longer determined by “have” or “have not.” It’s when one’s worth comes from something much deeper.
When we see one another as unique and precious children of God we become one, we become “we.”
When we begin with this profound sense of value, the possibilities of meaningful ministry are unlimited.
I was struck by a notion I heard when I sat in on a young adult Sunday school class a few weeks ago.
The class was studying the book, “When Helping Hurts.” The chapter being discussed that particular Sunday had to do with asking the folks being engaged, “so what do you enjoy doing?” The author shared an experience of a woman who responded, “I love to cook!” And she became the cook for the Wednesday night gathering that took place at a community center in her neighborhood.
She felt needed, valued and part of the experience. She felt like she was no longer a “them.” She had become a “we.”
I’m excited about an initiative Gainesville First United Methodist Church is launching in January. We’ve been involved with the children of a local mobile home park for over 10 years.
We’ve been offering after school tutoring, soccer camps, and summer meals. We have watched these children grow up and then return to help with the activities.
We’ve sensed the Lord leading us to move closer to these sisters and brothers that have become so dear to us.
So in January, we are placing a doublewide trailer in this community, so we can better do life with these friends of ours.
A guiding verse of Scripture for us on this journey has been John 1:14 from The Message translation, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
We don’t know where this may lead, but we do know we will be going there with these sisters and brothers that are a part of our “we.”
The Rev. Scott Hearn is senior pastor at Gainesville First United Methodist Church in Gainesville. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.