According to a report released this week, Flint is the nation’s poorest city. 45% of our neighbors live below the poverty line. Moreover, Flint also ranked first in childhood poverty: an estimated 58 percent of Flint residents under age 18 live below the poverty line compared to a national average of 18 percent. That’s the bad news. Here’s the Good News from the Good Book:
Psalm 34:6: This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. God knows. God hears. God works in Flint.
Psalm 140:12: I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. God sides with the poor.
Proverbs 14:31: Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. We who are not poor side with God when we show kindness to the needy.
Proverbs 19:7: Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. We will never regret what we do for the poor.
Proverbs 21:13: Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. To the question “if we are going to help the poor or not,” there is only one answer for those who are godly.
Jeremiah 22:16: He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord. If we want to know and experience God, we will advocate for the poor.
Of course, we must mention Jesus words when he described his mission and ministry in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Jesus came to set all those who are oppressed by sickness, injustice, or poverty free. Likewise, if we are going to be about the work of Jesus we will do the same.
What these Biblical passages (and several others I could have cited) say to me as we minister in our nation’s neediest city:
God loves the city of Flint.
God has not abandoned us.
God is for us and not against us.
If we want to be on the side of God, we too will be on the side of our poor neighbors. We will work, give, love and pray with them and for them. We will not stop until poverty has ended and God’s Kingdom comes to Flint as it is in heaven.