Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and without daily food. If any of you say to them, âGo in peace; keep warm and well fed âbut does nothing for their physical needs, what good is it? Likewise, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead. â-Jacques 2: 16-17
In today’s world, all you need to do is turn on the TV for a few moments or browse our online news source, and we are bombarded with images of violence, hunger, homelessness and natural disasters. . Closer to home, we face a more slow-motion emergency, where our own neighbors experience homelessness, food insecurity, domestic violence and active addiction, sometimes around the corner and sometimes behind closed doors in down the street.
In a training session on community health, someone once said “the only thing that separates a person ‘in crisis’ from someone who ‘struggles’ is someone who only ‘struggles’ with people for support, and whoever is in crisis has no safety net. . “
I am fortunate to have a loving family, an education that provides employment opportunities, and a church that strives to provide for every member of our faith community.
As a transplant in this rural community, I am encouraged by the outpouring of love and support on social media sites like the Smalltown Strong Facebook page, where people can promote small businesses, rally with families with a sick relative in hospital, or raise money for local charities. But the reverse is also often true: in a rural community, there are few formal resources for people in crisis. If you are homeless, hungry, sick or unemployed and have no one to support you, you are in real trouble.
If someone in difficulty does not fit the model of a sympathetic and âdeservingâ neighbor, does he need it less? Are children more deserving of homelessness because their parent is unable or unwilling to take a job? What if a woman’s untreated mental illness hinders her ability to make positive life choices? Should we stop supporting the recovery process of a man struggling with addiction because he has relapsed? We all want a âsuccess storyâ; we want to see people who have been through their struggles to the other side â happy, healthy and safe. But are we ready to support them in their crisis? More specifically: are we ready to help them with our actions, our time, our talent and our treasure? As James so clearly wrote in the Bible,
âFaith without works is dead. He spoke of faith in God, but likewise, faith in our community died without our actions and investment.
If we want our community to thrive, we must ask ourselves: what am I doing to help my neighbors? Without action, faith is dead. Without commitment, our city and our neighbors will suffer.