The book Ministry of Healing by Ellen G. White has been published in dozens of languages and loved by millions of people. It deals with how Christians should work to help others. This article summarizes the chapters “Help for the Unemployed and Homeless” and “The Helpless Poor” and serves as an example for Requirement 3 of the Pathfinder Community Improvement Honor.
Poverty is a perplexing problem, not easily solved. The Bible has some answers though:
- When the Israelites settled in the Promised Land, each family was allotted land that they could grow food on. The law allowed you to temporarily dispose of your land, but you could always redeem the land or it would revert back to the family eventually.
- Men were taught an industrial trade and women were taught how to keep a house properly. This ensured the possibility of income from work.
- Everyone was responsible to help the poor financially and by providing opportunity to glean the fields (remember the story of Ruth?)
- The Bible teaches fairness and graciousness in business practices.
Many people are afraid of physical labor, preferring to get something for nothing.
City slums are awful places full of filth and crime. However there are sincere people who are trying to live better but are held down by circumstances. These people especially need our help.
The writer places great emphasis on teaching the poor skills such as farming and a trade. She points out that training people is far superior to giving handouts to able bodied persons. Teaching dependence is very damaging.
Jesus lived a life of poverty. He did not seek wealthy friends and followers only. "Life's best things--simplicity, honesty, truthfulness, purity, integrity--cannot be bought or sold."
While we should try to help people help themselves, we will always have the orphans, widows, and helpless with us. It is our duty to care for these people. We should also pay attention to the needs of older people. How we treat the helpless is a test of our character and relationship with God.
Finally she supplies three key texts dealing with giving:
"Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." Luke 6:35.
"He that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse;" but "he that giveth unto the poor shall not lack." Proverbs 28:27.
"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom." Luke 6:38.