April 12th We would like to thank Park Drive Pentecostal in Oliver BC for allowing Pastor Peter to share about his mission work and his teams. Outreach set up was done following the service done by Pastor Peter and over 100 hot dogs were shared along with baking (by Joanne).  Volunteers, Park Drive congregation, Pastor Peter’s congregation all shared in food and fellowship.  Was very inspiring and God was glorified.

Join us for Christmas breakfast!

What do you usually have for breakfast on Christmas morning?  Hamburgers?  No?  Well, that’s what we’ll be having at our Christmas breakfast gathering.

Sound yummy?  We’d love to have you drop by (between 7 and 9 am) and enjoy breakfast with the street church family.  And of course, if you think Christmas breakfast should include something other than hamburgers, why not bring along some of your favourite Christmas breakfast goodies to share!

Many of our family don’t have what most people consider a “traditional Christmas day.”  Some don’t even have a roof over their head, never mind stockings and gifts under the Christmas tree.  Some wouldn’t even have breakfast on Christmas if it weren’t for this breakfast gathering.  We’d love for you to come by and share some of your “Christmas tradition and Christmas Spirit” with our street family.  Hope to see you there!

We’re back!

Well, we haven’t been away exactly.  Pastor Peter was on sabattical for about 3 months, though in that time he managed to perform 2 marriages, a funeral or two, visit street family in hospital, do prison counseling, and so on.  But at least he did get some rest – at least it was “rest” for him 🙂

Meanwhile, some of the volunteers continued to visit the street family, helping with finding shelter for the winter months, bringing breakfast once a week, and encouraging and sharing.

Today, we had a great time at Nanaimo Square, wintry weather notwithstanding, as we visited and shared, and Pastor Peter counseled family members who came by with needs.  Tomorrow he’ll have a load of newly donated winter coats, as well as gloves, to hand out to those who need them on these cold wintry days.  We enjoyed sitting at the square, sharing coffee, tea, hot chocolate and juice – as well as turkey, egg, and peanut butter sandwiches, cookies, yogurt, and so on.

We had lots of fun saying cheery “hellos” to the office workers in the area as they dashed to and from the coffee shops during their coffee breaks.  Some returned the hellos with friendly hellos of their own, others answered a little uncertainly, and others yet scurried past looking nervous.  But the positive responses outweighed the negative ones, hurrah!

Details of location etc are on the “events” and “Penticton” pages on this site.

You are all welcome to come and join us in any and all of our activities!  God bless!

do believers have to share and give to the poor?

Recently, at the Subversive1 blog, there has been a very interesting dialogue between blogger Keith Giles, and Thomas Crisp, a professor of Philosophy at Biola University.  The two became friends because of a shared “passion for issues of justice and following Christ into community with the poor.”

Recently, Thomas wrote a paper, “Jesus and Affluence,” which borrows from philosopher Peter Singer’s premise that if you can prevent a bad thing from happening (without sacrificing anything nearly as important), it is wrong not to do so.  The implication is that if this is right, our massive spending on luxury and frills is morally wrong.  Not only that, he suggests that the argument fits in with Jesus’ teaching on wealth and poverty.

After reading Thomas’ paper, Keith asked to interview him on the implications of these arguments.  The hour and a half interview is printed on Keith’s blog, here , here , here , and here.

Following are a few quotes from the interview.  Be sure to go to the blog posts and read the entire interview.  And please share your thoughts and reactions in the comments here.  Thank you!

…in the parable when the Rich Man asks if Abraham can send Lazarus back to warn his brothers – that what he wants his brothers to be warned about is not to live the way he lived, (ignoring the poor)…..The whole point seems to be, if you ignore the poor as the Rich Man did, you’ll end up on the wrong side of the judgment. So, the whole point of the parable is not to live as this man did; not to amass wealth for yourself and ignore those living in poverty around you.

The original context of the command to love your neighbor as yourself is taken from Leviticus 19 and it shows up after a series of specific commands like, ‘be sure to leave extra on your fields after the harvest so the poor can glean from it’ and ‘don’t trip a blind man or curse a deaf person’, ‘be sure to pay your laborers on time’, ‘rebuke your neighbor so as not to partake in his sin’, and all kinds of commandments about how to treat one another well in the context of community. After this long list of such commands you finally get this “so love your neighbor as you love yourself’ … the neighbor-love command there is meant to be a summary of all these other commands.

The Old Testament version of Shalom as you find it in the prophets, in the Law, in the Psalms, is as a community in which there is enough. There’s enough food for everyone, there’s enough safety from harm, there’s enough justice for all, there’s enough celebration where everyone is included and people care for each other… The community has no Shalom (peace) if certain people are not also being fed, or sheltered, or clothed, or welcome….In the true Shalom community, the poorest of the poor must be included in the “enough”. The vulnerable, disabled neighbor is included in the “enough”. There’s only real Shalom (peace) when everyone is included in the community and shares in the “enough”.

I’ve been in conversations with people before who will say that going to this extreme of putting people in motel rooms or buying them food or letting them sleep on your couch, those steps are secondary and of lesser importance. What those people really need is the Gospel. … But, if what you’re suggesting here is true and if Jesus is really summarizing these Levitcal commands and all of the Law and Prophets with the command to “Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself” then it seems the love command is really about showing actual compassion and demonstrating a love that results in shared food, shelter, and clothing. It’s not consistent to share the message of the Gospel without also seeking the Shalom of the whole person….I think that’s why it makes perfect sense for Jesus to say, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor” and why at the Judgment Jesus will say, “You fed me when I was hungry and you clothed me when I was naked”.

In Acts chapter two we see thousands of people who have not only taken Jesus as their promised Messiah, but they’ve embraced the idea of God’s Kingdom as coming today and they’re living in a community of true Shalom…..their response to the poor around them was to risk their own poverty and identify themselves with those who were suffering. Whereas in our culture we see ministry to the poor as finding ways to lift the poor up to identify with our wealth….To go down, to humble ourselves in order to risk our own poverty so that the poor might have enough isn’t very popular. We’d rather “eradicate poverty” and find a way to give every homeless person a job, a nice car, a cozy apartment, a big screen television, etc. That’s our goal. Our compassion doesn’t include letting go of our stuff.

It’s not just economic. It’s also social. When Jesus says, “when you have a banquet don’t invite your rich friends and relatives because they could pay you back” Pay you back in what? It’s not just that they might invite you to their house, it’s that they raise your social status. Instead, Jesus says we are to invite the poor, the blind, the lame, and others who would only lower your social status.

…being that I’m not single, I’m married, I’ve got two teenage sons who depend on me. I don’t want to drag my family into poverty. The reality of following Jesus into this kind of radical love and sharing is scary. It seems kind of impossible to be honest.

The love command only asks us to put the Shalom of others on par with my own Shalom. It’s mainly about pursuing needless luxury while there are people suffering in my community. I see the love command calling me to a point where I no longer put my Shalom above that of others. If I divest myself of my needless luxuries I will get to a point where I’m not putting my Shalom ahead of others and I am still able to feed my family.

I mean, for those first disciples when they heard Jesus say the things we’ve already looked at, they understood it to mean an actual liquidation of everything they owned in order to walk to the next town, sleep under a tree and eat whatever they could find. Jesus was homeless and his disciples, according to Peter, gave up all they had to follow Jesus. So, are we getting off easy by saying now that what Jesus wanted was only for some kind of equilibrium in the community where everyone is content with “enough”?

The goal is not destitution. It’s not so that we should become homeless. It’s about radical simplicity. I think that’s what Jesus calls us all to.

In Western culture we think it’s about giving more. We think of writing checks but I think it’s really more about what we’d call sharing that Jesus is wants. It’s not just giving money apart from relationship with those who are poor. Really, I think it’s knowing their names and understanding their struggles and making them your own. Then it may still involve sharing money, but it goes beyond a percentage tithe and becomes more about meeting a specific need for a specific person. It’s sharing not just giving. Because you could write a check and not really engage with another human being in a meaningful way. To me, it’s almost like the Widows’ Mite, where writing a check for $100 to an impersonal organization is less impactful than sharing $20 with the person right in front of me….People are drawn into relationship. So, if I’m going to seek that for my brother as well as I seek it for myself, I’m not just going to give them food or money, but I’m also going to draw them into relationship if they’re lonely, I’m going to draw them into my church community, and around my personal table for dinner. It means – to pursue the idea of Shalom – I both give my money away, and that I have people around my dinner table. You can’t separate those things.

It seems that there is an allowance for maintaining some level of wealth but keeping it with an open hand so that as you encounter poverty you are free to share that with others.

I think it’s actually an ethic of simplicity that Jesus calls us to. He saying we need to get rid of all the stuff that’s extra.

I think that if we’re willing to take one moment at a time, one day at a time, and take up our crosses daily and learn from Jesus how to die to ourselves and allow Him to show us how to love the way He loves and how to give the way He gives and how to forgive the way He forgives, He will do it. He is faithful when we are not.

I think to sell one’s possessions and follow Jesus and give all one’s stuff to the poor is for the community, not just one person. I think whenever we do this we never do it alone. It’s always in community.

The Gospel is about moving into relationship with the poor, it’s about moving into community with other believers, it’s about becoming less self important and less selfish and less independent, but more dependent upon God and others for life.
In the Western mind, Jesus is there to help me get that new car or grow my business or buy a bigger house. That’s what Jesus, my co-pilot, will help me do.

When I interviewed Dallas Willard he called it Vampire Christianity. Because people only want enough of Jesus’ blood to get saved but they have no intention of actually following Jesus or putting His words into practice. They don’t want to be humble like Jesus. They don’t intend to suffer like Jesus. They don’t want to hang out with the poor or the outcast like Jesus. They only want His blood to get saved so they can go ahead with their life without Him.

Yeah, can you imagine meeting a Jew who didn’t know or follow Moses? Or a Muslim who didn’t really follow Mohammed? How can we say we’re followers of Jesus if we’re not actually following Him?
It’s especially startling when you look at how Jesus says, “If you don’t do the things I’m saying, you’re not my disciples.”

The one thing Peter, James and John required was caring for the poor, and that was the one thing that Paul himself was eager to do. In other words, if we agree on anything we agree on this; We should care for the poor. It was unanimous. So, Paul would never say that caring for the poor was legalism or works.

Wow!  What do you think?  Go and read the full interview (all four posts) and then come back here and share your thoughts.  Thank you!

lack to find God

Is it worth caring for and about those who are poor?  By feeding them, are we simply encouraging them to continue to be dependent?  If they smoke, or have a pet, or do anything else that we think is wasteful for a poor person, does that mean that they don’t deserve our care? (And what if well-off people do those things?  Is it okay for them because “they can afford it.”)  Are most poor people simply lazy?  What about those with addictions – if we stopped caring for them, would they be forced to make a positive choice and end their addiction (so let’s do them a favor and not care for them)?  Is poverty a sign of not pleasing God?  Have people in poverty chosen to turn against God?  Should they then be left on their own as they “deserve” their poverty?  On the other hand, is “keeping up with the Joneses” and succeeding in the American/ capitalist dream a sign of being blessed by God?  And if it is, what does that suggest about people who aren’t “succeeding” in those ways?

I ask these questions because I’m constantly surprised by the number of self-identified “Christians” who believe some or all of these things.  Why I am surprised?  Because it goes against so much of what Jesus Christ himself said about the poor.  How can a person identify as a Christ-follower, but not accept what Christ said?  Yes, we all do that to some extent, related to many of the things He said – but we need to really become aware of what Jesus really taught – and then we need to act upon it, right?

In a recent blog post, “Constructing an Identity of Lacking to Find God,”  Noah Echols writes about what Jesus actually said about the poor – and how He Himself related to them.

Jesus presented a message that is largely ignored today: the more one lacks, the more likely he/she is to seek God…..

…instead of looking to society to find our identity, he proposes that we should look to God. Jesus argues that the more we lack, the easier it is to seek God. This also explains why James would write that we should “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.” He goes on to explain that these trials produce perseverance (implying more trials), which eventually results in becoming “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” No wonder most American Christians find it impossible to seek god outside of secondary sources (the bible, others testimony, etc.) – we are shackled by capitalism’s tendency to discourage a state of lacking….

The author of James writes at the end of chapter one that the “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”…

…[In the Bible] you’ll find a Jesus who spent his days serving the hurt, the unappreciated, the hungry, the poor, the sinners, the outcasts, the oppressed, the abused. He held these people in high regard because he knew that in their brokenness they had the potential to construct an identity around the seeking of God. Learn to value the unvalued and you’ll find God there.

What do you think?  Should Christians help and care for those in poverty?  If so, which ones?  Do we have the right to judge which are “worthy” of care and help?  Do you believe the writer’s assertion that those in poverty, those who are outcasts, those who are oppressed and abused, are actually more likely to seek God than those who have “succeeded” in the world’s view of success?  Do you believe that God is found among the unvalued?  Why or why not?  How do your actions line up with what you say you believe?

Ouch! (fingers pointing back at me too!)

What does it mean to be poor or homeless?

Andrew Jones, aka Tall Skinny Kiwi, recently wrote a post, “Choosing to be homeless and poor.”  In the post he makes the following observations:

Last week was a wake up call for Americans on the subject of poverty when it was discovered that poverty had risen to 15.1%. The number of Americans in poverty is the highest since counting began in 1959.

The USA poverty line is an income of US$22,113 a year for a family of 4. That puts our family under the p. line also. Maybe yours? ….

Some random thoughts on being homeless and poor.

– Over one billion people live in the worlds urban squats and slums and that number is rising. Very, very, very FEW Christian workers relocate to these places and very, very, very LITTLE of mission-bound finances end up flowing into these squats….

– Being homeless is not the same as being poor. USA has over 8 million RV’s but and at least a million “full-time RV’ers” but it is estimated that about a quarter of a million of these people live in their motorhome and do not own a permanent place to park it. Which is not  sign of poverty – some of these motorhomes cost a million dollars.

– Jesus choose to be homeless and poor in order to complete his mission on earth. Abraham was homeless and nomadic when he received his vision from God (Gen 12). Jacob was wild camping when he had his dream of the ladder and God’s restating of the promise to his Grandad…

Discussion:  What do you think of when you hear the terms “homeless” or “poor”?  Share your thoughts in the comments.  Thanks.

And be sure to read the rest of Andrew’s post – he has lots more to say about the topic.