Poverty is a real issue in our country and is getting worse every day. As I read the reports of our missionaries who work with those in poverty I hear over and over again that they are ministering to a larger number of individuals and families each month.
According to the US Census Bureau, the official poverty rate in 2011 was 15.9%, with 48.4 million people living in poverty, a number that has risen continously the past 4 years. Those statistics are even more startling in Kentucky with 19.1% of Kentuckians living below poverty. Many areas of the state, such as eastern and far western Kentucky have rates even greater.
Scripture has a lot to say about the poor. Jesus said he came to preach the gospel to the poor (Luke 4:18). And, in talking about the final judgment in Matthew 25, He said when we give food to the hungry, clothe the naked, and give drink to the thirsty – when we did it to one of the least of these – we did it to Him.
All of us, not just missionaries, encounter persons in our day to day lives who are living in poverty. Not only do they need help to meet those physical needs but they also need to know the love of Christ. We have a responsibility to care for those in need. But how do we go about doing that? What seems like a simple task may not be so simple after all.
Mississippi River Ministry (MRM), a Southern Baptist ministry, is a partnership of the eight state conventions along the Mississippi (Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee), the North American Mission Board, and Woman’s Missionary Union and exists to evangelize, to strengthen existing churches and to start new churches through ministry to both the physical and spiritual needs of persons impacted by poverty.
Next month MRM will be sponsoring “Reaching the Underserved through the Church” conference led by Brandon Hatmaker, author of “Barefoot Church.” The conference is scheduled for Thursday, March 28th, at Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett, TN and is open to all. Registration is only $25 and will include lunch. If you are interested in knowing how to better reach out to those in poverty please plan to attend this conference.
Send registration and check to: Mississippi River Ministry, PO Box 470, Trenton, TN 38382.
We hope to see you there.