[anzac] CHURCH w/the HOMELESS -KANSAS CITY - Andrew Strom

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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Fri, 12 May 2006 11:17:25 -0500
-by Andrew Strom.

For several months now, it is almost like I have been haunted by 
a burning question from God that has returned to me again and 
again. The question is this:-  "Is it possible to have true New
Testament Christianity without a deep and vital involvement with
the POOR? -IS IT POSSIBLE?" And more and more, as I have
been deeply challenged by this question, I have been forced to
reply: "No, biblically it is not possible. It is not possible to have
true New Testament Christianity without a deep involvement with 
the POOR."

This question is not "theory" for me. It has already begun to have 
an enormous impact on our life and ministry.

Starting in 2005, for about 8 months a group of us fed the homeless
in the Inner City once a week - handing out clothes and praying
with people, etc. It was good, but in many ways it was a kind-of
"side-line" - not a major focus of our ministry. I began to feel more
and more that we were just "visitors" - only there for a brief time
each week - just visiting rather than truly being "involved". Where
was the opportunity for really powerful ministry - for making true 
'disciples' of Jesus Christ?

This began to weigh on my heart, and about that time God started 
putting the above question to me again and again about the poor.

So a couple of months ago we took the plunge, and in so-doing 
our whole ministry was completely re-oriented and changed in a 
direction that I had simply not foreseen. But even this is only 
the beginning.

We rented the basement of an old stone church right in the heart
of the "homeless" area. It is a bit ancient, but the basement has 
a large dining area and a commercial kitchen. For close to two 
months now we have fed the homeless every Saturday and Sunday 
afternoon - all the while holding "church" for them while they eat.
(-Worship and 'Repentance' preaching, etc). A lot of them stay
and listen. And for the first time we are seeing homeless people 
repenting of their sins, receiving prayer for healing, getting filled 
with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we feed up to 130 people - but it 
is the "spiritual" ministry that is by far the most important to me. 
As I said, it is only a beginning, but this whole thing has already 
brought a profound change to my priorities - the way I think and 
the way I view Christianity.

You know, in the Western church today we so often go first to the
rich. We build our beautiful cathedrals in the suburbs - where the
well-off people live, and neglect the poor of the inner cities. After
all, how are the tithes of the needy going to pay for that new
sound system - or the preacher's new car? It simply doesn't make
financial sense to orient our whole ministry around people who 
have nothing - or so we think.

And yet this is the exact opposite of Jesus. He very deliberately
and knowingly went to the poor rather than the rich. He stated
categorically right at the start of His ministry that he had been
anointed "to preach the gospel to the POOR" (Lk 4:18). When
John the Baptist's disciples asked Him for evidence that He was 
the Messiah, Jesus spoke of His miracles and also the fact that
"the POOR have the gospel preached to them" (Lk 7:22). -These
were major signs of His ministry!  He said, "Blessed be ye POOR, 
for yours is the kingdom of God... but WOE unto you that are 
RICH, for you have received your consolation" (Lk 6:20, 24).

He told parables of rich people who went to hell and poor people 
who went to heaven. He told the rich young ruler to "Sell what you 
have and give to the poor" - and sent him away sad. He consistently
rebuked the rich and shared his life with the poor. He was "one"
with them. Born in a stable, a simple carpenter's son with "nowhere
to lay His head", a poor man living amongst the poor. -This is the
true Jesus as He really was. If you ever do a Concordance-search
on the words "poor", 'rich', "possessions", 'mammon', etc,- you will
see how utterly radical Jesus was on this subject. There is simply
no other way to interpret what he said.

And the early church just continued right on with Jesus' approach.
The Book of Acts tells us again and again how totally involved the
early Christians were with the poor. Many of them sold lands and
houses and possessions to help the needy (Acts 2, Acts 4, Acts 5)
and they held a daily feeding of the widows in Jerusalem. (Acts 6).

Remember, Jesus told us that when we make a "feast", we should
not invite our friends or rich neighbors, but rather "the poor, the
maimed, the lame, the blind" - for these are people who can 
never pay us back. (Lk 14:12-14).

All of this has been such a challenge and a re-orientation for me 
over the last few months. It really has affected everything. For us,
the next step is obviously shifting out of the "safe" suburbs
ourselves - and close to the inner city. Obviously, "church with the 
homeless" must continue - and hopefully even more so.

For me, after months of pondering, the answer to that original 
question is very clear. If I am honest with the Bible I can only come 
to one conclusion: "It is truly impossible to have real New Testament
Christianity unless there is a deep and vital involvement with the
poor." Go and search the Bible for yourself on this issue, my friends,
and see if it changes your life as it has mine.

God bless you all.

Kindest regards in Christ,

Andrew Strom.