I once heard this story from one of my best friends:

Bill was an interesting character.  While serving on staff at a different church, the first time he walked in, people noticed him right away.  It was obvious by his clothes. . . and his odor that he had not showered in a number of days.  He sat down about six rows back in our worship center.  My first thought was, “I wonder what he is doing here.”  My second thought was, “I wonder how our church will respond to him.”

I went over to Bill and welcomed him to our fellowship.  What I saw over the next weeks made me proud.  People from our church went over and welcomed Bill and began to help him.  Bill was a little slow, and lived in a low-income housing project.  He didn’t have much, and didn’t really know how to care for what he did have.  Bill didn’t have family in the area who could help him, so our church became his family.  People from the church went to see him two or three times a week.  They provided clothing, and helped him work on his hygiene.  Individuals in the church picked Bill up every time the doors were open so he could attend church, or fellowships, or whatever was going on.  Whenever we had a fellowship, church members would make sure Bill was at the front of the line so he could eat first.  And eat he would!  I’ve never seen a plate so full or stacked so high with food.

I was amazing to hear this story of a man who lived in poverty.  But it shouldn’t have amazed me, because this should be the norm for those who love Jesus Christ.  Our love for God should spill over to the downcast and hurting people in our society.

The godly care about the rights of the poor;
the wicked don’t care at all.
— Proverbs 29:7

Christians throughout the ages have made an incredible impact on the world when they have cared for the poor and needy in society.  Christians have built orphanages, created food pantries, opened clothing giveaways, operated homeless shelters, provided job training, and so much more.

But caring for the poor is a job for every follower of Jesus.  We all should be concerned for the poor and needy.  Our society is filled with people like Bill whose lives could be changed if someone would only care for them and love them.

Is there are Bill in your life?  Maybe there is someone in your neighborhood, near your job, in your family, at your school who is hurting or going through a rough season. Is there a way you might be able to reach out to that person and show you care?  Maybe you could have an impact on someone as my friend's church had on Bill.

Meiko Seymour