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Hungry? OK, but first you have to…

September 30, 2010

The quick (and unbiased) synopsis of this recent story in The NY Times is that homeless and needy folks in NYC are required to sit through a sermon in order to receive groceries donated by Trader Joe’s. Only the first 50 people will get in, and while they listen to Rev. Bill Jones’ sermon, volunteers fill their carts with bread, produce, and eggs. “People are not only hungry for food, but hungry for the word of God,” Mr. Jones said. “There’s not just a physical need but a spiritual need.”

I find it misdirected energy to require that hungry and desperate people listen to any religion’s message. You know that they need food – inarguably they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t – and, yet, you require that they pay the toll first. And, what choice do they have? Of course they will, and, they’ll rush to be one of those lucky 50 who get the chance.

Remember the once-popular WWJD bracelets? I just don’t believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) would first require unfortunate, broken, hungry people to listen to his message before they were fed. I found the following Bible verses that speak about feeding the hungry.

Acts 10:4 – Cornelius stared at him in fear. What is it, Lord he asked. The angel answered, Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.

Matthew 25:35 – For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.

The first verse mentions the word “gift” – as in gifts that you give the poor. Gifts are given without requiring anything of the receiver. Gifts are given with pure intention of the heart to please the receiver. When the needy are concerned, you are giving because you know they need it. When I stop to give a beggar money – and unfortunately Chicago is not immune to the needy – I give it. I don’t ask for anything in return.

There is no doubt that this Reverend Jones is a caring human being who wants to help people. No doubt at all. It is completely his prerogative and right to run his program the way he wants to. I just don’t like his price tag.

I might be way off-base, and this is only my opinion on this Reverend’s actions.

I just don’t get it.

What do you think?

Bible verses taken from this site.
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8 Comments leave one →
  1. barb permalink
    September 30, 2010 10:24 am

    its unfortunate that people have to put a price on their generosity. give for the sake of giving, not because you want to control. i wonder if the people at Trader Joe’s know that there is a ‘price’ for the giving of their goods (i’m doubtful that the Rev. Jones actually PAYS for Trader Joe’s merchandise – i could be wrong)

  2. Sofias Father permalink
    September 30, 2010 11:20 am

    My dad used to tell me this Quran Ayath 2:265 about a rock:
    Generally, it doesn’t matter how much water you pour over that rock. It doesn’t matter how much soil you spread over it for it will never plant. Similarly, it doesn’t matter if you were to feed a nation of poor people if it was followed with guilt or reminders of generosity for it will never prosper.

    On another note, the money we have in our pocket is not earned as we have a tendency to believe. It too is a gift that god has bestowed upon us. A gift, to have the ability to work and be able to earn an income.

    As such, we privileged do have a duty:

    “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4

    “To care for the poor is to know God” (Jeremiah 22:16)

    “Give to the near of kin his due, and also to the needy and the wayfarers. Do not squander your wealth wastefully; for those who squander wastefully are Satan’s brothers, and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord”. (Quran 17:26 – 27)

    “Charities shall go to the poor, the needy, the workers who collect them, the new converts, to free the slaves, to those burdened by sudden expenses, and to the traveling alien. Such is GOD’s commandment. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.” [Quran 9:60]

    Good Topic Sheri

  3. Helena permalink
    September 30, 2010 2:46 pm

    Good topic, Sherri. We should give to those who are in need with “no strings attached.” Our family has always done this. Before I became a Christian, there were those in the church that would do something nice for me just to “hook” me into attending their church. When I didn’t respond, they moved onto their next “project.” This goes against biblical teaching. We worship the One True God. He is all-powerful. He certainly does not need us to coerce people into following Him. We are not salespersons. He is not a product.

  4. October 2, 2010 10:54 pm

    I have a Mongolian friend who mentioned that missionaries used to do the same thing in Mongolia; they would give things to people who became Christians (I didn’t ask if they gave things only to Christians vs. just better things, perhaps I will).

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not associating the article or the aforementioned missionaries with all Christians; I know many Christian friends who have a ‘lead by example’ view (as we Muslims do).

    In the case of this article, it would be better if one were to give food to people without the requirement of them listening to a sermon. That may actually be more effective in their cause. It’s just unfortunate that this is not the case.

    “THERE SHALL BE no coercion in matters of faith….” (Qur’an 2:256)

    Regarding doing good deeds without expecting something in return:
    Bible: Parable of the good samarita: Luke 10:25-37
    Qur’an: 2:110, 2:274, among others

  5. October 2, 2010 10:54 pm

    typo: PArable of the Good Samaritan

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