A Brief History of Christians Loving the Poor

I have been rather surprised at times by the push back of some people when phrases like ‘social justice’ and ‘social change’ are used in reference to Christians. Commentators on Fox News have warned against social justice rhetoric, while some noted evangelical leaders warn against deed ministry that seems separate from a ministry of preaching and proclamation. These may be good warnings per se, but let’s not swing from one extreme to another so readily without at least appreciating the Biblical and historical context that has been truly impactful. There is something to be said for outloving your neighbor.

In this vein, scholar and author John Dickson summarizes well the impact Christians can have culturally and historically through loving the poor and those in need well: John Dickson - Early Christian Charity
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Pacifist Fight Club

Last Saturday I joined a ragtag bunch of Jesus followers for the first Pacifist Fight Club.  What started as a joke between Keith Giles and Chase Andre somehow led to 25 people wrestling about how to follow Jesus, especially when it comes to non violence and poverty.  We brought chili and chips and all our questions to the table.  While we did not figure it all out, we did walk away inspired to keep fighting for peace and comforted that we are not alone in our questions and struggle. 

The invitation to Pacifist Fight Club came at a time in my life when I was battling.  My prayer life felt like the frontlines of a war.   I felt attacked and exhausted, yet empowered and strong. It felt like Jesus and I were getting things done in the spiritual realm.  I hid behind him and fought for my life.  I stood with a shield of faith held up for my friends.  I came out swinging with the Word of God.  My prayers felt productive and mighty.  I ran into the presence of God excited for the fight.  I really like fighting with Jesus in this way.  I saw him working things out in life's circumstances and found I could rest and trust.  So when the invitation to Pacifist Fight Club came I was intrigued.  What does it look like to fight for peace?  How do I stand with a Warrior Savior who has said, "blessed are the peacemakers" and "turn the other cheek"?

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Give a Damn? Kicking A** and Taking Names

Rob here,

So it's been awhile since I've posted so I figured I'd write an update. So much has happened in the last two months and we are all excited with the film's progress. We are proud to announce that we won "Best Documentary Feature" at the Stella Artois Cinema STL Filmmakers Showcase, due largely to the enthusiasm of the fans that attended our sold out festival WIP(Work in Progress) debut.

The production of Give a Damn? over the last four years has been a roller coaster of accomplishment and disappointment which has tested our resolve on multiple occasions to complete the film that we set out to make.  There was a period of 3-4 months that I completely withdrew from the project due to frustration and the financial opportunity cost that were a byproduct of chasing our dream.  After watching the film with 440 people and receiving a standing ovation, I was overcome by a feeling of much needed closure and excitement. For the first time in many years I felt that sacrifice and struggle were finally overshadowed by success of the film. Dan and I were in attendance for this showing, however David was unable to attend because he was in Malawi working on his non-profit  "When The Saints".

Although Dan and I very much enjoyed the screening, it did not feel complete with David not in attendance.  Soon after the Tivoli screening, David returned to the country and now it is amazing to have had the full team present for the most recent screenings of the film.  Although we are all very different, we are starting to merge very well as a presentation team and the Q and A section of the film has been very strong because of that.

After years of begging the public to take notice, people are starting to pay attention and interest in the film seems to be exploding.  Although the film has not had it's official red carpet premiere, we are currently touring the WIP cut around the STL area at college and high school campus's.  The first two screenings at Washington University and Florissant Valley Community College were very well received and we are excited for the handful of dates that we have lined up in the next month or so. 

The other big news that I have is that we were excepted into Heartland International Film Festival as well as the St. Louis International Film Festival, taking place in October and November respectively.  Both are major film festivals (St. Louis is an Oscar qualifier) and needless to say we are extremely excited to be a part of these festivals.

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A new focus

Poverty can be hidden, it can be covered, it can be pushed to the outskirts so it's not visible to the business class of a city, but it is still there. The reality of such tragedies hit me this week, and of all places here, in the capital city, in a sprawling urban metropolis, poverty can be seen at its worst. Well, in my imagination at its worst, but in the reality of things, those starving people living not two blocks from my house are the middle class of Burkina. Out in the villages, three, four hundred kilometers from Ouaga is where desperation is screaming at you everywhere you go.
Blaise's Barber Shop!  
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God's Word in Action

ConversantLife is excited to partner with Thomas Nelson, Inc. and World Vision in a unique and biblical campaign called "God's Word in Action." Through this comprehensive campaign, Thomas Nelson's Bible Group is donating at least $100,000 through March 2012 to World Vision to help eradicate poverty and preventable deaths among children.

At ConversantLife, we're all about content that encourages conversations about faith and culture. So when we heard about a leading Bible publisher teaming with the world's largest relief organization, we immediately wanted to be involved. The way we see it, the Bible contains life's most important content, and helping "the least of these" is at the heart of the gospel message.

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Thinking About Global Poverty While In Church

Any effort to end poverty will take significant human resources and an adequate strategy to engage people to not only seek change, but become change agents. As a faith based non-profit with Christian convictions, the Bible guides our strategy to mobilize people and the Bible is a book primarily about relationships. The Bible itself says much on stewardship, but clearly it is not an economics text. The Bible has much to say about mobilizing people, but clearly it’s not an HR manual.

So, at the core of mobilizing people is the gospel itself as the key motivator. People mobilized by guilt or gratitude will not last as we are flawed human beings and our guilt often paralyzes us and our gratitude ebbs and flows. This document is meant to spur on a discussion about how we mobilize people that is gospel centered and that effectively erects a small army to end poverty worldwide.

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Can We Afford to be Multicultural in Education?

In the next 30 seconds, a little boy or girl in Africa will die of malaria.[1] Other research tells us that nearly 1 billion people in the world are illiterate[2] and another 1.4 billion can’t get to clean water[3].  So, what would those stuck in poverty have to add to a discussion about education and what could they possibly teach those of us who not only have drinking water flowing from a faucet, but who also sleep free from mosquito nets, with the ability to read ourselves to sleep? Let me pose the question a different way: are there universal methods of education that transcend cultural and socioeconomic lines to the point that we can articulate a core set of principles that may guide educators around the world, thus forming an international set of ideals that blurs the lines of the literate and illiterate and transcends the borders of East and West, North and South?

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A Biblical View of Vomit

Does God get sick of the whole world? At first glance, it seems like indeed there is a link between events in the world and the anthropomorphic description of God getting ill. On one particularly slow Sunday in church (confession here: I do sometimes take notes on the sermon and when the sermon doesn’t lend itself to notetaking, then I still write some things down anyway) and so I began to think to myself, ‘is there really something that makes God sick to the point of actually vomit?’ And, to my surprise, I actually found out that there is a whole bunch of verses on vomiting in the Scriptures. In fact, there are 13 separate occasions in which the act, what we call throwing up—getting seriously ill to the stomach, whatever you’re comfortable with, is not only mentioned, but actually references God on more than one occasion. Which leads me to conclude that yes, God gets sick at times.I won’t recount all 13 passages. They are graphic to say the least, particularly the one in Job 20:15 that has Zophar speaking and talking about the treatment of the poor. Ok…never mind, I will share it and it goes like this:

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The Talk that convinced me to do Give A Damn? by Francis Chan

At my university (Biola), we were supposed to go to 30 chapels or so a semester. If you missed one, you would have to do make-up's by getting a CD filled with talks by speakers who had visited the campus within the last few months. Many people do not really listen to the talks, and just skim through them to fill out the necessary paperwork. I am not innocent of this, but thankfully with this talk, I really listened intently and, in the end, my life was forever changed.


Francis Chan addresses the issue of faith and how we let our lives remain in a stalemate waiting for God to give us some kind of vision of what to do next. I love what Mr. Chan shares about his own journey as a head pastor of a massive church and his challenge to just step out and do something. I took him at his word and its been a wild ride since.

-dan


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