HOW MUCH SHOULD WE GIVE WHEN SO MANY SUFFER SO MUCH?

A recent email from a good friend in the Philippines has underlined for me what stories in the New York Times have also shown. It is the poorest people who are suffering the most at this desperate time.

When Prime Minister Modi  locked down India, suddenly hundreds of millions of poor Indians who live each day on that day’s earnings were immediately unable even to buy food. In the US, it is the poorer members of society who suddenly lose their jobs and income. Suddenly unable to pay for food or rent or medicines, they are desperate.

And then there are many others (my wife and I among them) who are quite secure.  They have good  jobs and  a secure income. Their monthly check and health insurance continue. For my wife and me, our Social Security deposit and pension plan deposit keep appearing each month.

Arbutus and I are trying to ask God how to be more generous in helping  those in need at this terrible time. As we wrestle with that, I have been pondering (somewhat uncomfortably) Jesus’ comment on the poor widow who gave “only a fraction of a penny.“  By contrast, rich people were tossing large sums into the temple treasury. But Jesus said the poor widow gave more than the rich because “she, out of her poverty, put in everything – – all she had to live on” “(Mark 12:41-44).

My wife and I are the rich folk in Jesus’ story. And there are hundreds of millions of suddenly poor  (desperately poor!)  neighbors here and around the world. We are continuing to think and pray about what this story means for us right now.

I invite you to do the same.

I want to share my Filipino friend’s letter to help you ponder this question for yourself.

Melba Maggay has been a good friend for decades. She has been the leader of a courageous circle of evangelical social activists for more than 40 years. In 1986, when the Filipino dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, tried to steal the election, Melba and her colleagues joined  one million folk who flooded the streets in protest.  (They won and Marcos fled!). Melba has been doing holistic ministry, combining word  and deed, all her life.

Now she sends me this painful plea about the plight of her desperately poor neighbors in this time of global pandemic.

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In addition to electronic transfer of funds, you can send a check to Dr. Melba Maggay’s ministry via MEANS, Post Office Box 8434, Bartlett Illinois, 60103 – – just say: for the ministry of ISAAC in the Philippines.

Another place to help: Reread my blog on March 5: “Endangered Christians in Nigeria Need Our Help.” Arbutus and I had planned to spend three weeks in Nigeria this July teaching at Dr. Agang’s seminary. Now, of course, that is canceled. Covid 19 has arrived. The seminary is closed and the students have been sent home. You can send help to Dr. Agang and his people: mail checks to Grace Fellowship Community Church, 3265 16th St., San Francisco, California, 94103. (Mark the letter: attention: Matthew Denson and say the gift is for Dr. Agang’s ministry in Nigeria.)

Pass this on to friends and encourage them, both to give and also to join my blog: ronsiderblog.substack.com.

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