Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What churches do

A famine on the West Bank in the first century brought difficult times for the churches.  Famine on top of persistent food shortages, double taxation, and overpopulation crippled an already precarious Palestinian economy.  Churches in the eastern Mediterranean took up collections to keep them alive.  It wasn't easy for any of them, but they did it because that's what you do when there's a need.

Children in Mpeketoni
left without fathers.
The church in Corinth was the first of several churches to give and did so eagerly, according to the history.  They asked Paul how to save up such monies. He told them to do like the Galatian churches: each person should set aside a sum every week according to their income. That way no big collections would be necessary when next Paul visited. Their surplus was small, and the week-by-week savings were how they achieved a generous gift in the end.

In Kenya just days ago, a terrorist attack on the village of Mpeketoni left 48 men dead.  They'd been asked if they were Christian and shot if they were.  Families were shattered and the town was set ablaze before security forces arrived to drive off the attackers.

The pastors in Mpeketoni asked for help, so churches in the region raised some money and sent the bishop and a truckload of food and other supplies to help out. There is much to do in the community to begin the process of recovery, of healing, but they're not alone. It's what churches do.

The Corinth church wasn't perfect. In the couple of years between Paul's letters, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, the collection effort fell by the wayside. Titus visited the church and rekindled interest in the relief fund, but after he left, it again came to a halt. Second Corinthians 8 & 9 is Paul's encouragement to the church folks to finish what they had pledged to do the previous year.  Difficult, even in the best of times, of course, so reminders and encouragement are part of the deal.

Sincere thanks come from Kenya for those who joined in the effort.
Let us know if you'd like to lend a hand.