Over the course of the last year and a half our staff and volunteers have served homeless men and women. We have served orphaned children, college students, abused wives and mothers, drug addicts, children and teens at risk, and many others. Our presence, visibility, and desire to help others have not gone unnoticed by people and outside organizations.
While I believe we are doing good, a few others do not. A Christian from another organization said we should not feed or clothe drug addicts that live under one of our bridges because we are enabling them to remain in that lifestyle. Last time I checked, Jesus did not say to clothe, feed or visit people in prison as long as they met the conditions that we put over them. A recent conversation with a Buddhist Boy Scout leader ended with his opinion that we should not help so many types of people. He wanted us to focus on one group and give them 100% of our time, money and passion. This idea is neither bad nor wrong, but it is misguided. You see most people want to help others in need, or suffering, which is awesome. However, if our aim is to only relieve earthly pain and suffering, then we are failing the Great Commission
Jesus said “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -- Matthew 28: 19-20 (NIV)
The reason we go and serve so many people is not so that we feel good about what we are doing, or even because we feel bad that these people are suffering. We serve many people of different ages and life situations because we want to “make disciples”. Jesus commanded us to- “teach them”.
When Jesus was walking this earth with his group of twelve men, He performed many miracles, changed many lives, and served countless people. He had compassion for people and He was preparing the twelve to continue His work discipling them.
Remember when Jesus felt compassion for the 5000 people? (Matthew 14:14-21). The disciples told Jesus to send the people away, but Jesus said, No, you give them something to eat. There was no way the twelve could feed them, so Jesus performed an incredible miracle. Do you think that when the twelve were handing out the bread and fish to the 100th or 1000th person, that person had any idea what Jesus had done? When the disciples had finished giving out food and picking up the extras, do you think that the majority of the people that were fed knew what Jesus had done, and now what was left over? Probably not. But who did know? The disciples whom Jesus was preparing for work!
Our hearts absolutely ache for the horrible situation these people find themselves in. But our reason for going to serve the underprivileged, is the young men and women of City of Refuge; we want to disciple them and teach them how to be like Jesus.