The Columns – February 2016


We are all familiar with the Golden Rule from Matthew 7:12. The CEV version says, “Treat others as you want them to treat you.” It reminds us to treat all people, regardless of their situation, the way we would like to be treated – as valuable people created in God’s image.

In Robert Lupton’s book Toxic Charity, he says, “Sometimes our good deeds have unintended consequences.” To avoid doing harm while we love our neighbors, he offers “The Oath for Compassionate Service”:

• Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.
• Limit one-way giving to emergency situations.
• Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements.
• Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said – unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.

Our Shreveport/Bossier community has incredible resources for compassionately caring for our most vulnerable neighbors. For instance, Hope Connections battles homelessness through a comprehensive, coordinated homeless services system that includes everything from meals to mental health care. They are now offering a resource called a “Hand Up Card,” which has a one way bus ticket to Hope Connections “to get some real help,” says Christa Pazzaglia, Hope’s Executive Director. “We can really fast track things for most of those people and get them housing, mental health services, substance abuse services, healthcare, all the things they might need.”

The First UMC Local Missions team encourages you to reference our local resources or to use the Hand Up cards as you encounter people in great need, perhaps even pan-handling. Always give people real, truthful answers, such as, “I don’t give out money or food, but through my tithes at First UMC, we support Hope Connections who can help you. Please use this one-way ticket to go to Hope where they can help you with almost any need.” The cards give you a real solution, without sending someone on a wild goose chase. Michelle Osborn, First UMC Local Missions Director, keeps several packets available, or you can purchase them directly from Hope.

Never feel guilty about refusing to offer someone cash or food when you can give them a chance to have “real change instead of spare change.” Love your neighbor – do no harm!

Check out these recent photos of people making a difference!
Lifespeak class serving coffee & breakfast to our downtown community.

The Willetts helped give out hand-knitted gifts at The Love Feast.

Allendale Friendship House volunteers threw a festive party for their community children.

MICHELLE OSBORN • Director of Local Missions •

GOODWILL CLOTHING DRIVE Volunteer to man the drop-off location on the first Sunday of each month, only 9:30-10AM, or to bag and deliver clothes to Goodwill. Earned vouchers will be used to purchase coats each year. And please drop your clothes donations with us on those first Sundays! Look for the signs near the Motor Garage.
VOA TRAVIS STREET LIGHTHOUSE Assist Staci Zeagler each Wednesday, 4:30-5:30, with her Wacky Wednesday program, or volunteer to tutor or mentor any time that works for you!
COMMON GROUND Participate in the Cedar Grove community dinner, served every Thursday evening through cooking, greeting, or working the clothes closet and pantry.
FULLER CENTER FOR HOUSING We need volunteers to help finish the three homes sponsored by First UMC in this year’s Legacy Build.

MICHELLE OSBORN • Director of Local Missions •

Stay Up To Date
on opportunities to connect, grow, serve & lead.

• View/Print this month’s events calendar.
• View/Print this month’s connect, grow, serve & lead opportunity descriptions.
• Check out our online events calendar.