During the month of October we have noticed a sharp increase in the number of people asking for financial help. We have processed well over 20 applications this month. That does not include the phone calls we get just asking if we can help.
What I am noticing is that many other organizations do not have the resources to help people and are referring them to NewPointe Community Church. As things get tougher economically, not only do individuals and families struggle more but non-profit agencies and small businesses struggle as well. If you were having problems before the downturn, it is amplified now.
I see our Helps ministry as a way to show the love of Christ to hurting people. Financial problems are usually just a symptom of much deeper problems. People come looking for help to pay a bill, but there are many other bigger problems below the surface. The way we try to help these families and individuals is to help them learn new behaviors and stop bad behaviors.
We first have an application that must be filled out and we get a copy of their drivers license. If they do not attend NewPointe, we require that they attend two services before we give them any assistance. Once they have met those requirements we give a limited amount of assistance. After that we try to get them to meet with a financial counselor to help them fill out a budget and put a plan together. If they are willing to do that we will consider future help. If they do not, then we will not give any more assistance.
For people that really want to make a change, we work very hard to help them and equip them to get a grip on their finances. We also try to encourage them spiritually and emotionally.
This ministry can only happen if people donate to our Helps Fund. All of that money goes directly to families and individuals in need. We collect money at our First Wednesday service that we hold once per month. The next service is next week November 5th at 7:00 pm.
Nearly all the people looking for help are willing to come to two church services. Some cannot because of transportation issues. We believe they will be impacted in some way by hearing the word of God and being around other people that are worshipping God. Our desire is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. For some this is through our Helps ministry. Helping them pay the rent or utilities and helping them develop a budget or find employment can be the first step in getting to know about Jesus.
We also offer a couple of classes on finances. One is called Financial Peace University and the other is called Crown. Both teach people about what the Bible says about money and possessions and how to handle them in a practical way.
I try to treat each person with respect and as a person, not a number or application. Many times I will pray with these folks after I meet with them to try to encourage them. I realize that some are out trying to get a handout and are not interested in making any changes. A lot of those folks don’t come back or do not follow through on what we ask them to do. That is why we have a system in place.
Helping people when they are down is what we are called to do. Sometimes we kick people when they are down, by judging, blaming and criticizing them. It is similar to the good Samaritan story in the Bible, do you go to help them or walk on by?