Thursday, June 25, 2009

Keep Your Coins, I Want Change

By Kate McElhinney This catchy and thought-provoking phrase was the headline of a recent article* I read that reviewed how people act with either contempt or compassion toward the homeless.

I consider myself to be on the compassionate side, (although I’m working on this, thanks to Aly’s last post.) But ultimately, this article sparked a tangent thought, (during English class in college this would have resulted in a stern look from my professor, but stay with me on this!)

People often ask how they can get involved with Plant With Purpose. Often times, they want to travel to one of our programs and see how we are working side by side with the poor. This is possible through one of our vision or church trips, but once there, people quickly find that there isn’t an opportunity to pitch in, such as building a house or tilling the land. We hire local agronomists and directors to offer guidance, but these are the only people who are necessary. Since the farmers are empowered, they don’t need our help with the labor and we become observers.

So how can people help? Serving the rural poor, our brothers in Christ, is the core mission of Plant With Purpose. But for those who want to get involved, sometimes the best way is to look locally. Plant With Purpose’s compassionate philosophy can be used as a model to help the local homeless.

A great example of this is Coast Vineyard Church. Every weekday at 11:15 a.m., a team of church members who call themselves “The Branch Ministry” meet at Mission Bay and hang out with the poor. They share food, stories, and the gospel. Over time they have forged friendships with the local homeless and many of them now regularly attend Coast.

So, from what I’ve seen, helping the poor is about more than giving change. Sure, money is helpful for buying clothes or food. But this is a temporary solution. To see a lasting impact, we have to offer compassion as Christians and walk with the poor. Many are looking for transformation, and giving a bit of time goes a long way.

*This article was posted on

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