By Anna Anderson
Part of our work has become assisting a church with local benevolence needs. This assistance comes in the form of meeting people, talking with them and assessing their situation to determine whether the church can step in and intervene.
Sometimes we cannot help. Sometimes we can. Sometimes we see desperate people who would do anything and promise anything if we would just help them this one time. Sometimes, we see people who are willing to give money back to the church after their next paycheck comes if we can help them this time. And we’ve seen that actually happen!
We are most interested in helping people keep their lights, water, and heat on; helping them to be able to stay in their home with a roof over their heads. We hear many stories – stories of a lot of anguish and struggle, stories of fear and disappointment and sadness, stories of loss without anywhere to find the kind of hope that is needed to carry on.
That particular day, he came in to the office, looking very weary and alone. He seemed like a tough guy, with dreads and tattoos, a ball cap hiding the top part of his face. Wayne was asking for help with a water bill. He had recently been laid off from his job as a machine operator for reasons that never were revealed clearly. Having already applied for unemployment, Wayne was waiting. Waiting for the unemployment to come, waiting for the tax refund check, waiting for someone who could offer him something concrete. Waiting in the midst of the struggle to try and figure it out.
Wayne is a single father of four children, whose mother is helping him with his children in this period of waiting while he’s without a job. He said that his water had been turned off for failure to pay, and he just could not pay the bill that was required to get it turned back on.
After talking to Wayne, we determined he may be a good candidate to work in our nephew’s engineering and contracting business in a neighboring county. While I was talking with him, LaCount was taking care of his water bill online, so that he could get the water turned back on and his children could stay in their home and have running water that he just could not pay for at that time.
Meanwhile, I called and talked with our nephew, and though he was not hiring at that time, he told me about a business in town where a friend works that was hiring people and he suggested he go by that industry and apply for a job there. I told Wayne that we would do all we could to help him. And I believe we did help him to get connected with a job prospect. He left in tears of gratitude and appreciation.
We don’t know the rest of the story yet, but what we do know is this: Help in the form of a water bill was not that much in terms of dollars. It didn’t cost the church’s benevolence budget very much. But help in the form of a listening ear was worth so much more.
Networking and making some phone calls, and taking time to be present with someone who is in need is part of what working with those who are experiencing poverty means. Poverty is not just a social issue we debate.
It’s people like Wayne. People like you and me. All of us need help sometime. If we are truly seeking transformation, we will be sensitive to all the barriers and hindrances that are holding us back from becoming more of who God has created us all to be. The hindrance is never just a water bill that someone cannot afford, but we start with what we know, and we seek in every way we can to help move towards change.
Moving towards transformation takes time, it takes patience, and it takes incredible persistence in the face of setback after setback. Sometimes it can begin with just a few dollars.
Anna Anderson serves as field personnel, along with her husband LaCount, who serves as a mission engagement partner in eastern North Carolina. Learn more about and support their ministry at www.cbf.net/anderson.
Anna’s long-term presence in North Carolina is made possible by the CBF Offering for Global Missions. Join God’s mission in the world. Give to the Offering for Global Missions. 100 percent of your church’s gifts will be used to send CBF field personnel to share the Good News of Jesus Christ around the world. Go to www.cbf.net/transform and order your free OGM resources today.