Ministries Programs All Helping Hands
It’s no secret that many parts of the city of Memphis are ripe with poverty. There are thousands of under-resourced people that walk the streets of our city every day that are hungry, homeless, and jobless. According to the Department of Social Work in the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Memphis, in 2012 the city of Memphis had the second highest poverty rate in the U.S. among cities with more than one million people. As economic trends continue to decline, reports indicate that poverty rates are increasingly getting worse.
Throughout Scripture it is clear that God’s people are to recognize and address the situation of those in need. Proverbs says, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord…whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” As Paul was preparing to return to Antioch to work among the Gentiles after visiting the church in Jerusalem, the Bible records that “they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me (Paul) . . . they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” As followers of Jesus, we are called to enact justice on behalf of those that cannot act for themselves.
In an effort to live out our biblical mandate to help the poor among us, the Single Adult Ministry at GBC organized a food drive during December and January. They extended their reach into the city by working in partnership with the Ronnie Tullos Evangelistic Association. This outreach ministry is a non-profit organization that has been working in inner-city Memphis since 1991 with the express mission of winning people to Christ. Their outreach is multifaceted: street witnessing, film evangelism, Bible studies, backyard Bible clubs, and vacation Bible schools. Over the course of two months, the Singles collected non-perishable food items, toothbrushes, laundry detergent, and deodorant. Verne Powell, along with the help of others, delivered the items to the ministry downtown. As a result, they were able to provide food and personal items to the hundreds of people in need that receive assistance from the outreach ministry each day.
Engaging social justice issues is never about patting ourselves on the back or for the pursuit of recognition from others. It is about a proper understanding of the Gospel that places us, as sinners, in a position of extreme spiritual poverty separated from a Holy God. The Bible indicates that as sinners separated from God, we are so spiritually starved that we are actually dead (Eph. 2:1). It is only by the grace of God extended to us through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus dying in our place for our sins that we may live. A heart that has been transformed by the power of the Gospel has a desire to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of the community where God has placed us.