Saturday, March 14, 2015

Giving and Receiving-- Testing Theology #2

Theory: The more you give to the poor, the more you get, in order to give more to the poor. 

He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)

He who gives to the poor will never want, (Proverbs 28:27)

How blessed is he who considers the helpless; The LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble. (Psalm 41:1)

He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; he who is faithful in unrighteous money, will given greater responsibilities. (Luke 16:10)

In 1995, our family invited the homeless and poor to share of our evening meal.  Some nights we would have one person and some we would have ten sitting outside our two-bedroom apartment.  I was only working part time, and we were barely above the poverty line… and later far below it.  But we always took whatever extra we had and provided for the needy in our area.  We didn’t need to reserve much for ourselves, because we always had our needs provided.

In about a year, as we saw people in desperate need, especially women with children, we would invite them to sleep in our living room.  We learned how to judge who we should have and who we shouldn’t in time, and what we should leave out and what not to (checkbooks, for example). 

Now we have a house, a three acre property, a warehouse full of clothes and furniture and daily donations.  We help feed 450 people a week, house full time 8 people beside ourselves and provide shelter for another 20 people beside.   The more we give away, the more we receive.  As long as we are faithful to give to the poor, and not sell for our own benefit, the more we get to give to more people.

 Eventually, our apartment had the sick and the freezing staying with us, as well as those who need to be discipled or delivered from their addictions.  Our two bedroom apartment was filled with people, some staying for a day, and some overnight.  Our apartment building was sold to a new owner and he decided he was going to “clean up” the apartment building.  One of the first things he did when he received ownership is provide us with a thirty day notice to evict the apartment.  He said, “Your work doesn’t fit with my work.” 

In the meantime, we had to figure out where we were going to live.  We weren’t going to receive any deposit for our apartment because we hadn’t paid any, for the apartment was in poor condition when we moved in.  And the rent was higher than ever in apartments around town, beyond our means.   We prayed for God to grant us some housing, because we didn’t have the income or resources to get it.
We asked for prayer right after we received the notice from two people: my bishop and my father.  Within two days, my father called me and said that he was willing to purchase us a house.  He didn’t say what he would pay, just that he would purchase us a house.  Amazing!

The question is, what house would meet the needs of our people and our needs and be not too expensive.   We got a realtor and looked on the internet and started to look at houses.   This house was too small, and that house was in the wrong neighborhood.  I felt that God was telling us to look close to downtown Portland, so we started driving in neighborhoods around there.  In one of the poorest sections of North Portland, there was a large house for sale.  Diane said it would be too expensive, but I thought we should check it out. 

The house was used as a foster care home that was being closed down because the family was retiring.  It was also used as a shelter for local homeless folks (and a drug lair for some).  The family who owned it were Christians who helped the poor and seeing that we were the same kind of folks, they were happy to sell it to us.  They gave us a reasonable price and we then had a house with six rooms for people to stay in with our family.  We now have 13 people in our house. 

As we provide for the needy, the Lord provides us more so we can provide for the needy some more.

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