HOMELESS ANYTHING WILL HELP GOD BLESS
Excuse me sir, could you lend me $2.85 for a bus ride to Barberton? I got no way to get out there and I gotta pick up this check.
I hate to ask, but could you loan me $10. I get paid this Friday, but I'm out of gas today.
Good evening _________, this is Joe Tucker calling on behalf of South Street Ministries. Thank you for your past donation. We are calling all of our donors at the _____level and asking if they would consider increasing their support to _________.
- Strategic Goals:
- 100% giving from non-profit Board of Directors, executive director, and key staff (92% giving was achieved in previous FY)
In the past two weeks, I have heard, contemplated, or read the above phrases. In some cases I have been solicited, in others I have contemplated asking others for funding for South Street Ministries as we approach our 15 Year Anniversary (for more information, visit our website www.southstreetministries.org, shameless plug, I know).
It strikes me. The differences and similarities of it all. Men on corners begging for change. Non-profit directors planning strategic funding campaigns (theoretically so we can help the above man on the corner!). I'm also struck by the frequent occurrences wherein Jesus talks about money. The Gospels are full of moneylenders and debtors, stewards and turned tables, perfume purchases, parables, and the poor.
And here am I in the mix of it all. Lending $10 for gas. Writing operational budgets for a growing organization. Hiring men from the neighborhood to open and close the Front Porch. Paying payroll taxes and insurance for South Street. Passing and recognizing the man on the corner, knowing his name, yet giving him nothing.
And therein lies my concern. Money is duplicitous. Is that man really homeless? Does your organization actually help the people you claim to serve? How does that corporation actually use its profits?
Perhaps that is my concern: being known. Moreover, being known and found insufficient:
- If you actually knew how much I had or spent would you condemn me for being too luxurious and not generous enough?
- Would I really give to you, if you weren't homeless, but prone to drinking? (Would I give even if you really were homeless without a drinking problem?)
- Would people give to South Street if our results weren't that quantitatively impressive but we tried our best to love deeply?
I feel like Adam in the Garden of Eden. Only instead of using fig leaves to hide my shame and selfishness, I have a billfold.
Please don't misinterpret this. I fully believe in the work we do at South Street. I try to live selflessly most of the time. But there are (often) times when my selfishness eclipses my generosity. There are times when our ministry walks through more 'failures' than 'successes.'
And I refuse to paint a different picture in order to garner your support.
Over the next month, I will post, plan, pray, and promote our 15 Year Anniversary for South Street Ministries. And the temptation I face is to present the perfect picture of need and performance. To quantify in such a way the work of our ministry so that you are inclined to support us.
It is a temptation I avoid through honesty. I honestly believe in our work. And our work is more about faithfulness than effectiveness. We desire effect, but often times it is not present. Often times men and women relapse, the breadth of the street wins over the narrowness of the Way, volunteer enjoy momentary interactions over lasting relationships.
And the only work we can point to is the quantitatively impossible love. We still love even when the success of redevelopment, recovery, or conversion doesn't take root. We still love when relationships crumble, worshippers argue, and transiency transports our friends to new neighborhoods. We still love even when we don't feel like it anymore.
And I know that this is what Christ ultimately calls us to.
Perhaps we will not be found insufficient after all.
Grace and peace (admist the mess)