Serving the Poor?

Today I am writing about something a little closer to home for me, but farther in distance, poverty.  For years I have been in love with the idea of helping God's children who are financially less fortunate than I.  My journey has taken me to many different places.  I starting my ministry several years ago when I began helping a priest build a transitional home for orphans who were too old to live in the children's orphanage in Bolivia.  I sent him money to support these older students and in turn the students gave back by helping at the children's orphanage.  He would send me letters (hand written via regular mail) and update me on how the kids were adjusting. 

When my own parish priest went to El Salvador to serve the poor there I was privileged to participate in his ministry by at first sending women to college and then later in many other ways.  When God asks me to do something I certainly don't want to let Him down so I gave that ministry all that I could!  My husband and I started our own 501 (c) 3 charity to help raise money and awareness in and around our community.  But soon we were met with many challenges.  There were people who tried to prevent us from continuing our work, those who were jealous, and even friends who disowned us because they did not want to be asked for anything.  Still, we forged on. 

One of the things I thought was very important was the formation of individuals.  People needed to be educated in many ways on how to effectively help the poor.  I taught programs in schools and visited church groups and even began taking people to El Salvador to visit.  In the beginning, I have to say that each of those visits was especially rewarding for me.  Many of the people who accompanied me on those trips came home with a new perspective on poverty and devoutly supported the cause.  But recently I have been disheartened.  Unfortunately I am seeing a bigger interest in supporting the priests who are called to serve than in supporting the poor.  With all the riches we have in this country why can we not see how even our spare change can feed a family or educate a child?  In the past week there was a terrible hurricane in El Salvador and 140 people died and countless others are without homes, food and water.  I ask myself, what are we doing as a rich people to help ease the burden of these painful times for those who were victums of this tragedy? 

Are we rallying together to send supplies and money, or are we focusing on the wrong things?  When you make a decision to help the poor (even if those you try to support do not welcome or support you) you are making a decision to live out the gospel.  I have found other ways to help the poor in other countries and even in my own neighborhood, but I am heartbroken at the direction I see so many people taking in the name of "giving to the poor."  Who are the poor?  Who are we really trying to impress?  Are you truly living the gospel?  Serving your own ego is not equal to serving Christ.  Please remember that what is done in secret your Father in heaven sees.  What is done for others to see is your reward already.


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