After spending about a month talking about helping that hurts instead of actually helping, it starts to feel like there is no good way to help. This feeling only increases when you focus on mission trips or helping those for away! But to believe that one cannot help well is as much as a lie as believing that helping should be easy or is solely about making me (the helper) feel better.
One of the Bible verses the book, Helping without Hurting, uses Isaiah 58:10 where it talks about “pouring oneself out for the poor.” There is a sense that helping is not simply something one can ignore or take lightly: we are required to give.
At the same time, even if helping is costly, it’s hardly impossible. The journey towards helping others well – to care about who others are as people, to want others to flourish fully (and not just go away with their problems), to listen to what others truly desire – is a journey of little steps. Helping others well requires an expanded heart, one that is open to God’s nudging and making space for others. The process of expanding it and exercising this muscle is like training for a marathon: it costs, including causing pain at times. Yet, the pain of training is much less than the pain of trying to run without ever having trained. Furthermore, with training the odds of reaching the goal also increase significantly, so it’s worth it to ponder and exercise ways in which we can help well (and not just easily).
One helpful tool for learning how to help others is found on JustGive.org – they list 35 possible ways to help the homeless. Volunteermatch.org is another good resource. In Lansing, there are many shelters looking for volunteers and many refugees and foster children who could use encouragement and help. I expect other cities can say the same.
Even for those without a lot of time, helping out at a local soup kitchen once or twice is helpful for opening one’s eyes and seeing the homeless in one’s community. I know that every time I arrive with the attitude that I can learn from these poor, God teaches me: gratitude, grace, perseverance, hope and more.
If you’d like help in starting to help more and better, please contact us (or a local shelter or soup kitchen). I am sure that I am not the only one who’d love to help you be a blessing to others.