By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
That simple phrase asserts who we are trying to become and what we are trying to accomplish with God’s help. Together, we are learning to follow Christ, and together, we are working with the Holy Spirit to help people live in the kingdom of Heaven right here, right now. Kingdom living is possible in this world, but what does “the life God intends” look like?
The best picture we have of God’s intent for the creation is found in the first two chapters of Genesis. There we find that God did not create a life of leisure for the first people. Instead, God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden “to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15b). Work is a part of the created order. It gives dignity and meaning to human lives. God designed us to work.
Sadly, employment is simply out of reach for too many people. Rather than earning a living, many rely on the generosity of others to survive from day to day. The assistance we offer in food, utilities, and other support is, in fact, a vital blessing to people we serve, but God doesn’t intend for people to depend on the church or other organizations. Our vision calls us beyond “first aid” treatment of poverty to a genuine cure. There is no cure without employment. When we help people work, we are restoring the created order.
There are obstacles to work that we can help to overcome. Some people don’t have the required documents to apply for a job. Some people need decent clothes for an interview and interview skills. Still others need help with education, high school graduation or GED. Sometimes, people seem to get caught in a “Catch 22.” They need a job to have reliable transportation, and they need reliable transportation to get a job.
The old proverb may be cliché’, but it makes the point well: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for life.” As we work to create the life God intends, may God reveal to us ways to teach people to fish.