Rally Call to Christians: A Surge in Generosity
Christians in centuries past risked their lives to help others during pandemics. What can we risk to help small businesses, frontline charities, and our own churches in this pandemic?
I’m struck by the imagery from Rodney Stark’s “The Rise of Christianity”. As deadly plagues swept through the Roman Empire, he outlines how Christians remained in disease-ridden cities to care for the sick and dying while many others fled into the countryside. Stark highlights the impact this selfless love had on communities and the ultimate growth of the Christian Church.
As a different pandemic sweeps the globe today, I’m inspired by the sacrifices many are making: people are distributing food to the homeless and delivering groceries to elderly neighbors; others are sewing protective masks for hospitals and senior care facilities; teachers are driving homework packets to students who do not have internet access; on Easter Sunday one immigrant pastor drove to the home of each church member to pray and bless their household – it took him all day!
In this spirit of selfless and faith-filled actions, I’m reflecting on the $1200 stimulus checks reaching most Americans this month. For many people, these checks are desperately needed to survive.
For those Christians who remain employed, imagine if thousands of us throughout Minnesota would fill in for those who’ve lost jobs and contribute some portion of our stimulus check to support small businesses, frontline Covid-19 charities, and churches in our communities?
Our collective action could be the 21st century equivalent of Christians in the Roman Empire. For those of us who are able, let us rise up like the saints of generations past and look for ways to intentionally sustain livelihoods that are vanishing.
Support your neighbors: Look for ways to intentionally spend part of your stimulus money at a local business or service provider in a way that sustains the income of your neighbors. We know that a disproportionate share of the recently unemployed are low income workers and women. We think Jesus would be pleased if we showed them the same special care that he did.
Contribute to charity: Many charities that serve urgent needs have seen the demand for their services increase as they anticipate a dramatic cut in charitable support over the coming months. For Christians who are financially able, now is the time to remain committed to the charities we already support to ensure that their critical work continues, and to support groups responding to the crisis: food security, housing assistance, emergency grants, child care, etc.
Stand by your church: We can also stand in the gap to support our own churches at a time when many of our fellow congregants have lost employment. Others’ giving may be on pause, but you may be able to step in with additional funds to ensure your church’s ministry continues strong.
A friend of mine had to lay off most the employees of his small business. I’ve talked to pastors who have already had salary cuts. I know charities that are furloughing workers. I’m limited in what I can do, but I’m choosing to spend a portion of my stimulus check to help others who need it more than I do.
If you are able, I invite you to join me!
Carl Nelson is President of Transform Minnesota, a network of evangelical churches where Christian leaders engage today’s complex issues from a Biblical perspective.