The thing about poverty is that those in it do not get a holiday from it. It is a constant source of depression and grinds you down, day in, day out. It is not fair and it is against God’s wishes. Harvest, is a time by when we can thank God for the safe gathering of food. In the book of Ruth, we are reminded how fields were harvested, but some wheat was left for the poor.
The first church to which I was inducted was Western Road URC and Heaton Way URC in 2001, and after three years I took a year out to go wherever God wanted to send me. On the Sunday evening, my last service I preached on the Good Samaritan, and on the Monday morning as I went to work, I crossed London Bridge and met a beggar. I determined to live out the story of the Good Samaritan and went over to him, took him to a hostel and paid for his accommodation. His name was Richard and for the next year, I helped him find a home and find a job so that he no longer lived on London Bridge.
Richard introduced me to other people who were homeless and begged on the bridge. He introduced me to the genuine homeless and warned me against those who were not genuine, and for the next year, I helped 16 people no longer have to beg on the bridge. It was a glorious time, very rewarding. I didn’t think I hope the money isn’t going to be used for drugs, I just gave as the need desired, without complications.
After a year, I was in too deep, prayed to God and the following day learnt the bank was transferring me to another branch, which meant I did not have to cross the bridge anymore. On that Sunday, Chadwell Heath URC invited me to be their minister, which I was pleased to accept.
Whenever I question the power of prayer, I always remember this example of prayers being answered and how putting your trust in God works out. While I was looking out for other people, God was always looking out for me.
The word poverty has in some ways been hijacked but it seems to me that as Christians, when we have an opportunity to give, it should be taken. Even, dare I suggest, with no strings attached.
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon