At the beginning of his first term, President George W. Bush championed a number of public-private partnerships as a way to increase the efficiency of government projects. Cooperative efforts between government agencies and corporations can be mutually beneficial so long as sight of the ultimate objective is maintained.
President Bush also advocated cooperation between faith-based organizations and government agencies as a way to more effectively dispense human services. While these initiatives may have been conceived with good intentions, partnerships between sectarian or faith-based organizations and secular groups can be problematic and even be counter-productive or damaging.
Many local churches even in small towns and rural areas operate a food pantry as an outreach ministry to their local communities. Churches can and should be concerned about the needs of people outside the church’s property line. But any ministry effort can be corrupted and turned into a liability through naivety, compromise or neglect.
A number of uniquely American institutions that were established to perform noble work for the sake of the gospel of Christ and the work of the Church have become corrupted through these means. Some have developed hostility toward the purposes for which they were originally founded. The earliest universities and America’s first hospitals were formed to reach people for Christ—to save souls and to tend broken bodies. But one by one, they have been turned into hideous spectres, devoid of grace, hope and genuine love.
Today, even the work of charity is being relegated to godless and heretical influences. More and more churches, through partnerships with Feeding America, Rise Against Hunger (formerly, Stop Hunger NOW) and other groups which subscribe to the “humanitarian imperative,” are being exploited for their generosity and unwittingly leveraged against the selfless purposes of the people who created them. This should come as no surprise, for “Satan is a liar and the father of lies.”
Every ministry has an equal potential to be twisted toward evil as it has to perform good works, and church leaders should be quick to recognize the first signs of trouble. Rise Against Hunger has been aggressively promoted among youth groups in mainline churches as a worthy and honorable ministry. However, its founder is a former United Methodist pastor who holds a bizarre and unbiblical interpretation of the gospel.
On behalf of Stop Hunger NOW, Rev. Steve Hickle claims that there are two kinds of disciples, namely, Matthew 25 disciples and Matthew 28 disciples. According to Rev. Hickle, some Christians are called to do outreach work such as food distribution, building homes and tending to the physical needs of people, whereas others are specifically called to evangelize. Stop Hunger NOW, renamed Rise Against Hunger, joins with secular organizations to deliver food worldwide and hides behind the humanitarian imperative as a shield to avoid pressure to spread the gospel.
The humanitarian imperative states that evangelism cannot be a prerequisite condition to the distribution of aid. On its face, it sounds reasonable, but in many nations, the effect is that the gospel is absolutely forbidden. Food aid may actually be given to or stolen by Boko Haram or other Muslim militant groups, or to feed Islamic armies that butcher and terrorize Christians such as occurs in Nigeria. Rise Against Hunger absolves itself of any responsibility for the outcome of its efforts.
Domestically, Feeding America is now the largest network of food banks in the United States. The organization provides donated food and supplies to church pantries and food banks, then charges a per pound service fee and demands adherence to its set of requirements. Primary among them, is the humanitarian imperative dictate that delivery of food may not conditioned upon sharing the gospel or any other religious requirement.
Naturally, this has a chilling effect on the evangelistic efforts of churches and usually results in the gospel being scrapped altogether. Churches interested in community outreach are better off to avoid Feeding America. The discounted food is a great incentive, but the cost of doing business with the organization in terms of restriction, is unacceptably high.
Feeding America is, above all else, a liberal political organization. Its inspectors promote political advocacy among all clients and seek public exposure at every level. Radio ads with television celebrity, Dr. Phil are heard on many stations throughout the United States.
Local churches do well to learn the ways of the parasitic Cuckoo bird prior to entering into any relationship with Feeding America or other secular organizations that espouse the cunningly worded, humanitarian imperative. The Cuckoo bird lays her eggs in the nests of other, often smaller, species of birds whose eggs resemble those of the Cuckoo, and then abandons them. Once the Cuckoo chicks hatch, they grow rapidly and consume every scrap of food brought to them by the host couple. The hosts work tirelessly to feed the insatiable Cuckoo chicks. When they have grown strong enough, the Cuckoo chicks will eject the hosts own eggs or offspring out of the nest to die on the ground.
Charity is an important part of the work of the Church and every Christian should seek ways to help the needy. But the Bible repeatedly warns against putting undue importance on this temporal world at the expense of the everlasting human soul. In chapter 6 of John’s gospel, Jesus rebuked those who sought Him only for a food hand-out. The imperishable Bread of Life must be given preeminent importance.
Contrary to the opinions of short-sighted men and women and the emotional pleas of Feeding America ads, hunger is not a disease in itself that can be eradicated by massive amounts of money and aid. Hunger is a symptom of an underlying problem such as divorce, drug abuse, alcoholism, unemployment, poor money management, physical abuse or neglect.
Personal involvement by Christians who possess the necessary knowledge can help people solve these problems and end the cycle of injury and dependence. Government programs are unable to provide this level of intimate care and concern that reaches the human heart and soul. And that is the prize that God’s people should be seeking; helping the lame to walk rather than selling them crutches.
Evangelism—making disciples of Christ—is the most important and life-changing work of the Church. Its effects are eternal. Feeding the body is easy; feeding the soul requires a saint.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.