The Relationship Factor by
One thing I’ve had to learn about working with
the poor is that it’s not about “fixing
them”, instead, it’s more about the
When I first began working in the motel over in
Santa Ana, my vision was grand. We were
going to start regular Bible Studies, share meals,
worship together and see powerful conversions,
healings, deliverance and eventually convert the
entire motel into a satellite service of our own
God had other plans.
Instead, as we began to host monthly carnivals for
the children of the motel, God started
high-lighting one particular family to me. We were
involved with serving several families at this
motel, but one in particular stood out in our
hearts and minds, as if God had put a spotlight on
them for us and said, “Love these above all”.
So, we started to intentionally befriend his
family. I took time to drive Mike all around
Orange County so he could find an apartment
through the Section 8 program for those who need
housing assistance. We prayed together, searched
the internet together, drove all over the county,
looked at apartments together, filled out
applications, met with managers, and the
usual stuff, for several weeks. All for nothing.
Mike’s frustration was my own. We kept praying.
We had them over for lunch after church. We
watched movies together. We befriended them.
Soon I began to realize that this was really the
whole point of this Compassion Ministry. It was
not about the program, or the activity, or the
resources we could offer these families as much as
it was about really allowing their lives to
intertwine with our own lives.
As this began to occur, I realized that it was I
who was being changed, healed, and blessed.
That’s the paradox of this ministry. No matter
how much food we give away, no matter how much
resource or blessing we give, I always walk away
feeling guilty. I used to wonder about that. I
used to think it was because we didn’t do
enough. Even though I knew in my mind that this
wasn’t true, that we had actually brought a
significant material blessing, something still
felt “unequal” in the transaction for me.
That’s when I figured out that it was because we
were taking away a blessing that was always
greater, in the Spirit, than anything we could
ever hope to provide out of our own material
We’re the ones who got blessed.
And that’s why I think God said that “..the
poor you will always have with you”, because He
knew that we needed them. We have so much we can
learn from them, and there’s so much we can’t
ever get about the Kingdom without interaction
with the poor.
So far, what I’ve learned is the true meaning of
courage, of sharing, and of love.
Want to know what courage is? It’s a man who
suffers the indignity of raising a family in a
one-room motel, full of prostitutes, drug dealers
and the mentally ill, and who stands by his wife
and children with his head held high.
Want to know what sharing is? It’s a seventy
year old woman with an infection in her leg
who can’t afford to buy groceries, or insurance,
who gives away the food you just gave her to a
total stranger who is walking by and asks for
Want to know what love is? It’s a family living
in a motel room that they can barely afford who
allows a friend to sleep on their bed, rent free,
while they sleep on the floor, knowing full well
that if the manager discovered this guest they’d
all be thrown out on the street.
Love is a when a couple who once lived on the
streets gets their own apartment after years of
struggle, who brings in total strangers off the
streets to sleep on their couch, so that they can
help them get jobs, get their State ID Card, get
into Job Corps, and get off the streets.
Before this, I didn’t really know the fullness
of the meaning of these words, and I could never
have discovered this in a text book, or in an
article like this one. It’s the sort of thing
you only really learn as you live it out firsthand.
This is why I’m so eager to share this with
others. There’s a whole world of things that God
wants to show us and teach us, if we’ll just
obey Him in this one thing; to love and care for
the poor around us.
The Holy Spirit is always trying to get us into
relationship, because it’s in relationship with
others that He can move and teach and transform us
into the image of Jesus.
Keith Giles is the Associate
Director of Soul Survivor USA, and has started
a house church in Orange, California called "The
Mission". His online blog
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