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Proof that fundies DON'T walk the walk


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Guest Anonymous

And some Christians believe in restoration

Published: Monday, February 13, 2012, 5:45 PM Updated: Monday, February 13, 2012, 5:50 PM

By Steve Duin, The Oregonian

You are forgiven if the caterwauling headlines have convinced you that most Christians remain huddled around the bonfire, cursing the darkness, obsessed with contraception, abortion and gay marriage.

But it’s just not true.

In Oakland, Faith Network of the East Bay is staffing three public-school libraries that would otherwise close, and providing 125 reading tutors for area third-graders, 60 percent of whom read below grade level.

In Bellevue, Wash., Jubilee Reach, originally a ministry at First Presbyterian Church, is providing preschool care and after-school programs for more than 4,200 middle-schoolers in a district where 64 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

And at Portland’s Imago Dei Community, the evangelicals are investing in after-school arts programs and partnering with the city in its efforts to end child sex trafficking.

As Imago’s Rick McKinley said Monday, “You have a growing number of urban churches that are really engaged with culture, rather than staying on the sidelines and critiquing it.â€

The inspiration for that engagement? A passion for restoration, not isolation.

“We’re sent into the world to display the beauty of the gospel and the kingdom,†McKinley said. “We’re not called to hide behind our walls and figure out how to legislate righteousness from the balcony.â€

Righteousness is in vogue, of course. It’s an election year. Another opportunity for Rick Santorum to lecture on birth control (it’s “harmful to women†and society), Planned Parenthood to come under the gun, and states to rethink gay marriage.

Candidates are looking for wedge issues. The media warms to a good fight. “Rational, gospel-centered, normal Christians don’t make news,†McKinley argues. “And no press is better press, most of the time, because there always seems to be an angle. For Imago and many churches, the attitude is, ‘Let’s put our head down and get to work, and the work will speak for itself.’â€

So it does. In Bellevue, Jubilee Reach has restored after-school sports at all seven middle schools and launched art, writing and ESL programs.

“Our mantra is to love, to listen, to learn, to build relationships and trust, so we can hear those deeper needs, and step into the gap,†said Brent Christie, the executive director. “We see amazing things happening. Cultures are changing. Gang behavior has stopped. Schools that were tagged aren’t tagged anymore.â€

And the lives of the church volunteers — Jubilee Reach draws from 30 area congregations — are transformed as dramatically as the lives of the students.

In the East Bay, Faith Network has opened 18 reading clinics, and president Randy Roth offers two statistics: 75 percent of the students who aren’t reading at grade level in fifth-grade will eventually drop out of high school and 70 percent of the second-graders with a tutor advance two or more grade levels in reading proficiency by year’s end.

Imago Dei’s McKinley understands why some may find all this unnerving: “We’re not there to get money; we’re giving money. We’re not there to gain power; we’re trying to serve.â€

That’s not the only message emanating from the church these days, but it’s the most compelling one.

-- Steve Duin

------------------------------------------------

What these groups are doing, our pet fundies could duplicate, but won't.

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Isn't Imago Dei the church Donald Miller (author of "Blue Like Jazz," etc) attends?

Our church runs a huge ESL class. We have classes in gaining citizenship and we have classes (we meet with low-income families and help with budget planning, job fairs, etc) in apartment communities all over our city. Those are through a joint venture with other churches in our area. Do we offer to pray with families there? Sure. But you can attend in Wiccan garb with your same-sex partner and we'll still be happy to help. It's not like we make you read a bunch of tracts before we'll teach you English. We just want to show the love of Jesus in a physical, tangible way and meet people's needs. I'm pretty sure that's what He would be doing.

I really don't think that these things are that unusual. It's just that ugliness gets more press.

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It takes so little sometimes to do something good. My tiny church can afford to make sandwiches for 30 people once a week. So we do. We give them to the residents of the homeless shelter, who are kicked out after breakfast and only let back in at dinnertime. See, this is what Jesus asked us to do.

(If you decide to do this: Buy meat, cheese, and bread only. Veggies will just make the sandwich soggy. Pass out the sandwiches with mayo and mustard packets so people can doctor them up to suit themselves.)

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It takes so little sometimes to do something good. My tiny church can afford to make sandwiches for 30 people once a week. So we do. We give them to the residents of the homeless shelter, who are kicked out after breakfast and only let back in at dinnertime. See, this is what Jesus asked us to do.

(If you decide to do this: Buy meat, cheese, and bread only. Veggies will just make the sandwich soggy. Pass out the sandwiches with mayo and mustard packets so people can doctor them up to suit themselves.)

Do you have to get permission from the homeless shelter?

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Imago Dei’s McKinley understands why some may find all this unnerving: “We’re not there to get money; we’re giving money. We’re not there to gain power; we’re trying to serve.â€

Those aren't the only reasons someone might find this unnerving. Many churches do these types of things as a chance to evangelize the people they're "serving". I think that possibility unnerves people more than churches giving money and serving people.

That being said, as long as religion isn't mentioned during these things (unless the person they're helping initiates it) then, bravo. They're doing very good things and should be commended.

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So why is it wrong to mention religion at all?

We (as in, my children and I) give out sandwiches and bottled water to the homeless people under the overpasses we go by when we go to the zoo. We smile and say, "Jesus loves you." Because we believe He does and we want to show His love for people. I guess we're assholes.

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So why is it wrong to mention religion at all?

We (as in, my children and I) give out sandwiches and bottled water to the homeless people under the overpasses we go by when we go to the zoo. We smile and say, "Jesus loves you." Because we believe He does and we want to show His love for people. I guess we're assholes.

There's a difference between evangelizing and saying "Jesus loves you".

Although, if you're trying to make someone feel better, it may not be effective to tell them that someone they may or may not even believe in loves them. Unless you don't care about whether your line makes people feel better or even makes them feel uncomfortable, so long as you get to say what you want.

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I don't think that Valsa is saying that anyone is an asshole for mentioning Jesus. There are some churches though who use charity as an excuse to convert people.

Imagine that you were homeless. A man walks up to you and your children with needed food. When he hands you the items, he smiles broadly and says, "Don't worry , sister. Thor loves you." You might not be offended but some people would be. Me, I'd just thank the person, and tell them that I hope the Flying Spaghetti Monster wrapped them in his noodly appendages of love. Hopefully, the person would have a sense of humor. :)

The idea about taking sandwiches to homeless people is a good one. I've seen people begging for money and have wanted to hep but I'm often short of cash. Does anyone get angry at you for not giving money?

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Do you have to get permission from the homeless shelter?

We coordinate with other groups around town (churches, non-profits, businesses) to ensure a steady supply of food. Thursday is our day for making sandwiches.

It's always a good idea to call a shelter or food bank or what have you ahead of time and ask what they need before you drop anything off.

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I don't think that Valsa is saying that anyone is an asshole for mentioning Jesus. There are some churches though who use charity as an excuse to convert people.

Imagine that you were homeless. A man walks up to you and your children with needed food. When he hands you the items, he smiles broadly and says, "Don't worry , sister. Thor loves you." You might not be offended but some people would be. Me, I'd just thank the person, and tell them that I hope the Flying Spaghetti Monster wrapped them in his noodly appendages of love. Hopefully, the person would have a sense of humor. :)

The idea about taking sandwiches to homeless people is a good one. I've seen people begging for money and have wanted to hep but I'm often short of cash. Does anyone get angry at you for not giving money?

No, and honestly, I would feel uncomfortable giving money that may fund a drug or alcohol addiction. We started saving all those weird plastic zippered packages that kids' toys and bath products and things like that come in. You know, the clear vinyl things with zippers that you always think "Hmm, I could do something with this, but I don't know what." I always feel guilty throwing them away.

Anyway, we save them and put some food and water bottles in them and hand them out at the stop signs. There are multiple places on the way from our house to the zoo downtown where homeless people congregate and we can hand them a little care package.

I don't tell them not to worry or anything stupid like that. We just want to be a tangible representation of the love we believe Jesus has for all people. I'm sure they have a lot to worry about. They're sleeping under the overpass for goodness sake!

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I don't think it's terrible to say "Jesus loves you" when you're giving a homeless person a sandwich, as I'm more focused on the fact that you're giving them a sandwich. But the irony is pretty overwhelming. Just sayin'.

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It's definitely good to give them a sandwich so often like you do. But could they maybe feel a bit driveby? Like "Here is a sandwich with a side order of Jesus"?

I am not overburdened with niceness (or cash) so I don't give as often as good folk like pf and jenny. But I like talking to people generally so if a person is talkative I will chat in most circs.

Me and some pals were out for an evening and we had stopped to get some takeaway food once when we saw an old bloke climbing in a bin for food. We were a bit wasted and we all looked at each other and one of us went over and said "Excuse me mate, we're just about to get something to eat, can we get you anything?" He was pleased and said cheers, he would like...So we went off and got his food and ours, and came back. It was a warm night and he asked us to stay and chat with him while he ate, so we did.

He was a totally amazing dinner companion. He had had a thoroughly dodgy past and showed us his scars and tattoos and stuff. His stories, though in some cases largely made up ;) were as entertaining as heck. We were sad when we left, but he said he would be OK.

Never saw him again but I hope he was (unlikely :( ) The conversation was well worth the four quid.

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I looked into one of these just now, Jubilee Reach in Bellevue, WA. I was suspicious because Bellevue is a very wealthy city and they claim to be reaching out to the poor. It is a city that many Washington residents go to for the shopping and restaurants because it is so wealthy that they have just about every store in existence, more so even than nearby Seattle. So I was like, "poor people in Bellevue? huh?" I discovered that there are many poor people in Bellevue indeed, but they will not be able to afford many of the "services" offered by this "generous" church.

All of the Jubilee Reach activities I could find cost money. There is a music program that costs $120 a month- more than private lessons!

I suspect that all of the activities they are aggressively and publicly patting themselves on the back for are funded either by fees or by government grants. Meanwhile, they get to spread their Good News on someone else's dime, all under the guise of helping the poor.

Yep, sounds like they are "walking the walk". I feel bad for being a cynic, but I think this is probably the case for many of the "ministries" mentioned in the article.

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I don't think it's terrible to say "Jesus loves you" when you're giving a homeless person a sandwich, as I'm more focused on the fact that you're giving them a sandwich. But the irony is pretty overwhelming. Just sayin'.

I don't think it's terrible, just rude. The old "never discuss politics, sex, or religion in polite company" saying did have a purpose behind it. It was to avoid making the people you were talking to feel uncomfortable. I think it's just as rude to say "Jesus loves you" to a stranger as it would be to go up to them and say something like "Santorum is awesome".

Plus, in this case, she's doing a favor for the person she's giving a sandwich to and the "power levels", if you will, in the interaction are unbalanced. If you said "Jesus loves you" to, say, the person in a grocery store checkout line in front of you, they could tell you off if they didn't like it. Someone who is down and out, that you're providing much needed food for, doesn't have that same power to tell you off if they don't like the "Jesus loves you" line, or they risk possibly having the food taken away.

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But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

But when thou dost alms,.... Do it so privately, and with so much secrecy, that, if it was possible, thou mightest not know it thyself, much less make it known to others:

let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth; acquaint not thy nearest and dearest friend with it; let not one that sits at thy left hand know what thou art doing with thy right hand; it is a proverbial and hyperbolical phrase, expressing the secrecy of the action. It is a Jewish canon (p), that

"he that gives a gift to his friend out of love, may make it known, , "but not if it be by way of alms".''

This is what I was taught and what we teach our children. If person that I have helped asks me why I helped them then I might share with them how my faith helped me on the inside. Not saying because I believe that I will be gifted $$$ but how it has helped me get through the rough patches in my life. But unless a person comes right out and asks why would you do this for me or are you a Christian, I just remain silent. Maybe that makes me a bad Christian but I feel shoving Jesus down someone's throat will lead them further away from Christ than my silence will. My actions will be louder than my words.

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Interesting thread. It caught my eye because I was just out volunteering for a group that provides nutritious sack lunches for poor kids to take home from school, so their subsidized lunch won't be their last meal of the day. I like to contribute to my community, and I haven't done much since we moved here (except march in the Occupy-related parade, with a bunch of Wobblies and union people, heh!) so I thought I'd start helping out there. I've been a Girl Scout leader with a troop that was half girls from the housing project, and I've been a tutor for kids from under-performing schools, so I know firsthand that not getting enough to eat has a very serious impact on kids' behavior and learning ability. Anyway, I think Kids Food Basket is awesome, and I had fun working there. A lot of church groups volunteer there, but it's not a church organization.

I was trying to imagine saying things other than "Jesus loves you" to destitute people. Like, would I now say, "The Goddess is watching over you?" I can't really picture doing that. For a right-wing alternative, how about, "The Republican party is your friend!" Definitely not--most Republicans wouldn't give a homeless person a sandwich, anyway. They'd be more likely to hand out excerpts from "Atlas Shrugged." And then ask the homeless guy for a quarter. Heh heh. Even back when I was a Christian, I was more likely to just take their hand and say something like "God bless you," or "You take care now." It's the human contact that matters, I think, more than the message.

I think maybe what I don't like about "Jesus loves you" is that to me, at least, it comes across kind of blame-y. Like, if Jesus loves you, why are you living under a bridge? Jesus can't be to blame, so it must be you! An all-powerful God could make everything great for you, so if you're in trouble, it must be your own fault. How about "*I* love you"? We wouldn't say that--because if I love you, why in the hell am I letting you live under a bridge? Why don't I do something about it? Yeah, it's a lot safer to put that on Jesus . . . . Just some random thoughts.

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I wonder if there are cultural issues here too - it would be interesting to know if any similar Islamic programmes do any kind of 'Allah loves you' thing along with their aid. I can't imagine many people in the UK getting offended by 'Jesus loves you' but then we don't have separation of church and state, so.

I think 'God Bless' is safer tbh - I know plenty of people who aren't Christians who say it.

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Just piping in here, because I live in Bellevue. Emmidahl is right in that Bellevue is a very wealthy area and First Pres is one of those crazy-wealthy churches with an operating budget in the millions. I think it's great what they're doing, and I do think it has a good effect, but it's always hard to see the discrepancy in the budget. Huge operating expenses. Ginormous activity budgets for parishoners. Small outreach programs. I don't know how to reconcile it all. The one nice thing I've seen Bellevue churches do is they all work together to provide a rotating monthly shelter for the homeless. So the Lutheran church will host this group of homeless folks in their fellowship hall, feed them dinner, and give them a place to sleep for a month. Then the Pres. church will, etc. It's a nice community effort.

I don't know whether First Pres charges for their services or not, but I walso thought to say the areas further out from the city center aren't super wealthy. There's a huge international/immigrant community, and it's where most of the families with children live, because housing is so much more affordable than the downtown area.

It's also where Jubilee's thrift shop is, which, I have to say, is a rockin' thrift shop. All these designer clothes from the Bellevue folks for a couple of bucks. One of my favorite places to shop.

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Is it the one in the Bellevue mall? I have bought some awesome stuff there. Screw Nordstrom, I'll get my Chanel purse for $20 next door!

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Interesting thread. It caught my eye because I was just out volunteering for a group that provides nutritious sack lunches for poor kids to take home from school, so their subsidized lunch won't be their last meal of the day. I like to contribute to my community, and I haven't done much since we moved here (except march in the Occupy-related parade, with a bunch of Wobblies and union people, heh!) so I thought I'd start helping out there. I've been a Girl Scout leader with a troop that was half girls from the housing project, and I've been a tutor for kids from under-performing schools, so I know firsthand that not getting enough to eat has a very serious impact on kids' behavior and learning ability. Anyway, I think Kids Food Basket is awesome, and I had fun working there. A lot of church groups volunteer there, but it's not a church organization.

I was trying to imagine saying things other than "Jesus loves you" to destitute people. Like, would I now say, "The Goddess is watching over you?" I can't really picture doing that. For a right-wing alternative, how about, "The Republican party is your friend!" Definitely not--most Republicans wouldn't give a homeless person a sandwich, anyway. They'd be more likely to hand out excerpts from "Atlas Shrugged." And then ask the homeless guy for a quarter. Heh heh. Even back when I was a Christian, I was more likely to just take their hand and say something like "God bless you," or "You take care now." It's the human contact that matters, I think, more than the message.

I think maybe what I don't like about "Jesus loves you" is that to me, at least, it comes across kind of blame-y. Like, if Jesus loves you, why are you living under a bridge? Jesus can't be to blame, so it must be you! An all-powerful God could make everything great for you, so if you're in trouble, it must be your own fault. How about "*I* love you"? We wouldn't say that--because if I love you, why in the hell am I letting you live under a bridge? Why don't I do something about it? Yeah, it's a lot safer to put that on Jesus . . . . Just some random thoughts.

I think that if Iwas a homeless person and someone handed me a sandwich and said, "Jesus loves you", I would say "thank you" and then think to myself, "If Jesus loves me so damn much, why am I living under a bridge?" :?

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I think that if Iwas a homeless person and someone handed me a sandwich and said, "Jesus loves you", I would say "thank you" and then think to myself, "If Jesus loves me so damn much, why am I living under a bridge?" :?

I found Jesus when I was homeless. *shrug*

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I found Jesus when I was homeless. *shrug*

Good for you. However, one person finding Jesus while they were homeless (from a person handing them a sandwich, saying "Jesus loves you"?) does not warrant shoving Jesus down the throat of any number of people who- 1) might not believe in Jesus or God, 2) might be a different, non-Christian religion, 3) might have very complex, possibly negative, but ultimately legitimate feelings about the divine which would cause them to view a condescending line like "Jesus loves you" as a slap in the face.

There are many ways of providing encouragement and showing empathy without invoking religious figures like Jesus or God. The only reason I can think of that someone wouldn't err on the side of discretion is that they think their right to mention Jesus supersedes the person they're helping's right not to be made uncomfortable by religious talk.

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Good for you. However, one person finding Jesus while they were homeless (from a person handing them a sandwich, saying "Jesus loves you"?) does not warrant shoving Jesus down the throat of any number of people who- 1) might not believe in Jesus or God, 2) might be a different, non-Christian religion, 3) might have very complex, possibly negative, but ultimately legitimate feelings about the divine which would cause them to view a condescending line like "Jesus loves you" as a slap in the face.

There are many ways of providing encouragement and showing empathy without invoking religious figures like Jesus or God. The only reason I can think of that someone wouldn't err on the side of discretion is that they think their right to mention Jesus supersedes the person they're helping's right not to be made uncomfortable by religious talk.

No, it wasn't from that - I already had interest in church but was raised in an atheist household and was not allowed to go.

I really cannot see how 'Jesus loves you' is *that* offensive - can people really not take things in the way they were intended? If I think that Jesus loves someone, then I'm going to say so. It's not like they have to believe me. Telling someone that Jesus loves them is not exactly shoving them into a church at gunpoint.

But again, I think it's a cultural thing - I think we're less bothered about offending people in the UK than in the US.

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