When is helping really hurting?

Sitting across the table from someone who is facing an eviction or utility shut-off, a natural first reaction would be to fix it, especially if there are children at home.  As Christians, we all struggle with the challenge to see everyone as Jesus.  We need to believe that Jesus is among us, that He walks beside us, before us and behind us offering us support and guidance…..but do we need to expect to see Him in everyone we meet?  Will writing a check solve the problem?  Or is it more likely to ease our conscience that we have acted as we feel Jesus has told us to?  Don’t get sucked into making their emergency, your emergency.  Is it possible to remove emotion from decisions of this sort and to think about whether your help may really is hurt this family? 

In order to better understand this statement, it’s important to remember that Kent County has many community resources.  Because of all the people needing help, these resources have set up strict criteria that define who can receive assistance.  If someone has an eviction or shut off notice, they can apply and have a good chance of getting financial assistance. 

So, back to your first meeting with  the person asking for your help.  You could fix this, write a check, even if it’s just for the minimum needed to keep the service on or the landlord happy,  and help this family move forward.  After all, isn’t that why your congregation has elected to have a benevolence fund?  But if you have stopped the crisis, by not having them apply for community funds, you have eliminated their chances of truly staring with a clean slate.  This help has also decreased your benevolence funds….money that could potentially have been used  to help the next person who sits across the desk from you.

Let ACCESS Operation Second Mile caseworkers help you to be good stewards of your limited benevolence funds.  If you don’t have a standard intake form, let us know and we can email you one.  Gather as much information as possible,  then, phone or email OSM caseworkers (caseworker@accessofwestmichigan.org) with the name, birth date, and last 4 digits of their social security number as well as a summary of what they are asking for,  and we can give you information and referrals to agencies currently offering assistance.  If you were considering offering some financial assistance, we can make a note of this and hold this offer until all agency decisions are made. 

ACCESS OSM wants work with you to be sure that helping is not hurting.