From Donna's blog: Several years ago I was in Uganda, volunteering at a school in the capital city of Kampala. The poverty level of the city is mind-blowing, and my immediate reaction was the same as most Americans on their first trip to the Third World: give every penny you have to everyone you see. But I had raised money for evangelism work and not humanitarian aid, so my mentors wisely advised me that I was responsible to my donors to use their donations for the reason they had given it – furthering the Kingdom of God. Because of lack of funding, I had to choose between reaching the lost and helping the least of these.
One day while driving through the streets of Kampala, the vehicle stopped at a red light. The pouring rain outside had turned the roads into mud and puddles and muck. I heard a soft knock on the window and turned to see a hand held out, begging for food. I opened the window and looked down to see a teeny girl standing there with her hand stretched upwards, fear and hunger showing through dirt on her little face. I was rattled to notice that the little girl was so young and so small that, standing at her full height, she didn’t clear the top of the Jeep tires. I gave her some money and watched her splash through the muddy water back to the shelter of a tin shack, my heart aching at her condition and broken that I couldn’t do more.
I began to wonder that day – why can’t we do both? Why can’t we reach the body and the soul of the least of these? The entire life of Christ was spent doing exactly that – feeding the poor, healing the sick, raising the dead AND bringing salvation to the lost. The more I studied the Scriptures, the more I came to realize that taking care of the poor is very close to the heart of the Father. I spent a lot of time in prayer and fasting about it, and the Lord conceived in my heart the idea to start a non-profit organization that uses community development as an avenue for getting the Gospel into people’s lives. An old African proverb says, “Hungry bellies have no ears.” Reaching people who are locked in the cycle of poverty, disease, and hunger by meeting their physical needs is a highly effective tool for meeting their spiritual need.
The book of Matthew talks about the Lord separating the “sheep” from the “goats.” Both groups love their Master, but one thing (and one thing only) separates them: how they treat the “least of these.” The Lord tells them that their interaction with the hungry, fatherless, imprisoned – basically anyone that we would call the “less fortunate” – is what distinguishes those who are close to the heart of the Father from those who only thought they knew him.