II Corinthians 8: 1-15 reminds us what it means to care for one another in a material sense. We often think that those who have resources give, and those who have less receive. Yet this passage reminds us that there should be a reciprocal relationship between the parties instead of one giving and one always receiving.
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”[b]
The Apostle Paul was concerned about organizing a collection for the Church of Jerusalem. The church was poor and it was Paul’s desire that all the Gentile churches help that church which was “their mother in the faith,’” states William Barclay.
In the early church, there was a definite reciprocity to giving and receiving that may be lost on modern readers of Scripture. They agreed to care for one another as material needs arose. Paul tells the readers in other churches of the generosity of the Macedonian churches, “They were poor and in trouble but they gave all they had, far more than anyone could have expected,” states Barclay.
For each of us today reading this Scripture while residing in one of the wealthiest nations on earth, it might be hard to understand how we are to live this out.
Perhaps it will be helpful to think about it in these terms:
• Both people – the giver and the receiver – have equal value and worth in the eyes of God. This is also one of the core value statements of Open Door.
• Those in need are often the most ready to give.
• According to Barclay, “Paul’s challenge to the Christian is, ‘With that tremendous example [Jesus Christ] of generosity before you, how can you hold back?’”
Every day at Open Door, we see neighbors helping neighbors find resources and new connections; working together to create new solutions to often longstanding problems; and praying for one another to keep holding on through the tough times.
These are neighbors who may lack material wealth yet are rich with life experiences, stories, love, and concern for others. They have value and worth.
The social norm of reciprocity reminds us that when the materially poor give from what they have, their gifts are of equal value and worth as those who give from their greater portion.
This is the challenge for each of us. To love, to give, to learn, to listen, to appreciate, and to honor the contributions, materially and otherwise, of all.
Thank you WLTZ for your sponsorship and support of the 32nd Annual Open Door Classic!
Tony Crosby and Friends to play in concert November 18 at 3pm in the Sanctuary at St. Luke United Methodist Church. The program will feature Epworth UMC pastor, Tony Crosby, and daughter Natalie, along with St. Luke organist, Ken Bailey in concert together. The program will highlight piano, organ, vocal, and classical guitar music with a wide variety of secular and sacred works from both past and present. A love offering will be taken to benefit Open Door’s “Youth in Unison” children’s orchestra program. Tony says “We are excited about making music for you and raising funds to help music be a doorway to success for children.”
Open Door partnered with Mercy Med, Truth Spring, and Pierce Chapel UMC to bring celebrated author Robert Lupton to speak to a capacity crowd at the Trade Center September 6. Lupton spoke about “Toxic Charity,” when churches and charities hurt those they are trying to help and how to reverse it. More than 450 members of the community were in attendance! His inspiring comments suggested ways to serve needy and impoverished members of our community in a way that will lead to lasting change.
More than 100 attendees want to follow up to the event by participating in a “Toxic Charity” book study at Open Door, a “Seeking Shalom” group at Mercy Med, take a tour of the agencies, or all of the above!
We are so thrilled that our community seems hungry for a different way to engage with neighbors living in poverty and that we could be a part of bringing possible solutions.
Join us for a luncheon with author Bob Lupton. Click to reserve tickets.
MercyMed • Open Door Community House • Pierce Chapel United Methodist Church • Truth Spring Thursday
September 6, 2018 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Columbus Convention and Trade Center 801 Front Avenue • Columbus, GA 31901
“Toxic Charity” and “Charity Detox”
Each year the Advocacy team selects an area of focus from among the four members’ deepest cares and concerns. This year, the Advocacy team is focusing on ending extreme poverty worldwide.
By Kim Jenkins, Executive Director, Open Door Community House
Women and children disproportionately make up the largest population of persons living in poverty around the world and here at home. Many programs around the globe seek to alleviate the problem by offering, for example, training for women to sell items to earn money for their families, or a gift of animals to raise for milk or meat.
Statistics show and history has proven that poverty is sexist. A family, even entire communities, can be transformed when women are empowered in the home, the marketplace, and in business ownership.
In Georgia, statistics tell the story that poverty is sexist here, too, with nearly 17 percent of women living in poverty compared to 12 percent of men – and we know that the percentage is much higher in many communities in our state. Nearly 40 percent of Georgia families that are working are still living under 200 percent of the poverty line, not enough to provide essentials of daily living without outside financial assistance.
In the United States in 2018, full-time working women earn only about 82 percent of what men in the workforce earn, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Federal poverty guidelines indicate that a family of four must earn at least $50,200 to live at 200 percent of poverty.
Open Door Community House, located in Columbus, Ga., is empowering women to create financial security through employment, training, and the building of social capital or networks of people who can connect to resources including job opportunities that pay a livable wage.
As a National Mission Institution of United Methodist Women, Open Door is committed to long-term solutions to poverty for women, children, and youth. Our mission is to “empower impoverished people in our community to realize their full potential as children of God.”
About 10 years ago, a board member made a profound statement that begged us to examine how we provided services and it changed the course of our ministries. She said, “I was here as a college student serving as a lifeguard when Open Door had a pool. We are now serving fourth generations of those same families.” Instantly, we had the same sinking realization that even though our ministries had changed through the years to accommodate the needs of the community, we were still serving in ways that were not helping people move out of poverty. We were addressing symptoms (food insecurity, unstable housing situations, dependency on government and agency assistance to survive) instead of addressing the root causes of poverty in our area (such as the lack of employment opportunities that paid a livable wage, lack of a high school education or greater). It also was during this time that nearly all of our staff members were saying, “We are seeing the same people for the same things day after day. What can we do differently?”
We believed that for families to change, for our community truly to be able to move beyond poverty, we had to find new ways to empower women and families to become financially secure, find sustainable and supportive community, and be able to hope and dream again.
The board and staff of Open Door spent a great deal of time in Scripture study and prayer. We held visioning sessions around creating shalom in our community. We felt energized and compelled by God to create opportunities for real and lasting change.
The reading of Robert Lupton’s book, “Toxic Charity,” provided us with the language, tools, and structure for long-term transformation. As John Wesley had stated centuries before, Lupton’s most valuable guiding statement is, “Above all, do no harm.” He put into words what so many of us were feeling: the more we do for people, the more dependent on us they become, which in turn often fosters a sense of entitlement. We damage others unintentionally by doing for them what they often have the capacity to do for themselves.
This newfound sense of purpose, identity, and ministry direction led us to become the lead organization in Columbus for Circles in Columbus, part of a national movement to inspire and equip families and communities to thrive and resolve poverty. Circles asserts that responsibility for both poverty and prosperity rests not only in the hands of individuals, but also with societies, institutions, and communities.
We also decided to cease providing a clothing ministry and renovate that physical space into an educational program called The Open Door Institute, providing training in culinary arts, customer service, work readiness, life skills, computer classes, and GED preparation and testing.
Over the years, we at Open Door have continued to adjust our ministries to focus on long-term solutions for women and children to move beyond poverty.
Serving since 1935, Open Door currently provides eight ministries through which women and families find encouragement and restored hope. These include but are not limited to:
We are blessed by partnerships with United Methodist churches and United Methodist Women across South Georgia.
Poverty is sexist. Serving together, we will continue to empower women to hope, dream, feel secure, and move beyond poverty.
Kim Jenkins serves as executive director of Open Door Community House in Columbus. Contact her at 706-323-5518 or email@example.com. Each year the Advocacy team selects an area of focus from among the four members’ deepest cares and concerns. This year, the Advocacy team is focusing on ending extreme poverty worldwide. Learn more about the Advocacy team and its efforts at www.sgaumc.org/advocacy.