Many years ago when I read Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, I wasn’t sure I should like it. It felt subversive. The biggest part of those feelings was due to my quickly changing paradigm at that time: after coming out of an anti-authority, counter-culture movement and being thrown into the evangelical church subculture, I wasn’t sure what politics and social philosophies I was supposed to subscribe to. I was a far left fish tossed in a far right stream. Thankfully, Jesus catches and cleans all kinds…and the total surrender He calls us to can’t be labeled and polled.
As time crept along, I had questions that buzzed me, like: why can’t the Church be known for it’s humility and servanthood and yet have a prophetic voice in the culture? Doesn’t a call to follow Jesus demand a response to the poor? Are classic evangelism and social justice mutually exclusive? Does the Good News that lifted me out of a lonely, drugged and spiritually lost state have something to say about racism, economic oppression and systemic injustice? It did and does.
Evangelical thinkers and writers like Ron Sider sounded the call to move beyond categorized political labels and simply do the right thing…or dare I say: do what Jesus would do.
After the message this weekend, I wanted to offer some of the practical—and that doesn’t mean “non-spiritual”—ways we can take part in changing our world. First and foremost, go to VCC’s website to the MercyWorks page at https://www.vineyardcincinnati.com/vcc.php?id=68. If you haven’t been to this page lately, you’ll be shocked at the number of opportunities. For many, many years God has had us getting hands-on with the needs of the marginalized and under-resourced. MercyWorks, Growth and Healing Ministries and our Prayer Ministries offer a variety of services, like simple basic help with free food and clothes (over 10 tons of food goes out every month), financial counseling, mentoring and tutoring, an auto donations and clinic, assessments, job coaching, jail ministry, mentoring and tutoring programs, literacy tutoring, Divorce & Beyond, and more. It includes organizations outside of ours, like our partnership with Big Brothers/Sisters http://www.bigsforkids.org/.
Last Thursday we officially purchased the 106,000 square feet warehouse in which we’ll build the Healing Center: Help for the Whole Person. The number of volunteers that will be needed to serve our city with the Center will be huge. Begin praying now for what God might have you do with the HC. Or come serve for a couple of hours at MercyWorks to get a taste of what’s coming.
Other VCC ministries take God’s grace beyond our walls, like the Good Sam runs each Saturday morning and volunteers who drive and pick up folks from shelters to bring them to the Saturday night celebrations.
Or you could pick up a yellow bag by the exit doors and fill it up with the items listed on it and bring it back the following weekend. That simply saves us money from the MercyWorks fund and enables us to feed and care for more people. Demographics are shifting rapidly; NPR recently reported that according to the last census, there are now more people living below the poverty level in suburbs than in the cities.
Check out our friends at the One City Foundation at www.onecity.org/. Whiz Kids is a simple program to offer tutoring for at-risk kids.
If you want to expand your view and learn more about global poverty and the AIDS epidemic, go to http://www.one.org/
Of course, grab a copy of Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger or Just Generosity. It might rock your world.
And join the revolution.