A few weeks I was really challenged by 2 pieces from film and television, one fiction (although based on a true story) and the other fact (documentary).
'The Blind Side' (http://www.theblindsidemovie.com/dvd/index.html) is based on the true story of a wealthy American family who take in an essentially homeless boy and eventually become his legal guardians. The title of the film comes from an American Football term as the boy taken in, 'Big Mike', turns out to be a very effective player and goes on to begin a career in the NFL (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-bntZhLTV0).
'Famous, Rich & In The Slums' (http://www.rednoseday.com/whats-on/tv-listings/famous-rich-and-in-the-slums) is a 2-part documentary where 4 celebrity supporters of comic relief (Lenny Henry, Samantha Womack, Reggie Yates & Angela Rippon) travel to the Kibera slum just outside of Nairobi, Kenya, and live there. Although clearly they were being followed by a camera crew, they spent their week living in the slum, working alongside resident Kiberans, and somewhat sharing their lives with the indiginous people.
Watching these 2 pieces produced tears, reflection, provocation, challenge and admiration, sometimes all at the same time.
I have been left wrestling with the issues of the poor, the unwanted and the fatherless and what is an appropriate response. Of course there is the action of giving money to a cause which I certainly can do (and did) but is money the answer. When the plight is abroad and detached can I really effect anything or should my response be to look closer to home and use the provocation to do something rather than nothing. The comic relief piece exposed extreme conditions in one of the poorest areas in the world but that is not the world that I live in. Am I to give it all up here and go there? Is that what God wants? What does the Bible have to say?
Financial resource can obviously make a difference, particularly when giving to a cause but not necessarily to those on your doorstep. Maybe they would benefit more from your time or resources other than money. In The Blindside it was a family and a home although that particular family had genuine wealth as well.
Other questions came such as could I do that? Could I welcome a stranger into my home? What is the risk to me, my family, my posessions!?
These are tough questions too which I have yet to fully resolve the answers. My prayers are that at the very least God increases my compassion for those less priviledged than I, that He increases my resources so that I can give more, that He multiplies the benefit of what I do give (financially)and that I remain thankful for what I do have. I also pray that these provocations are not lost or diluted by ongoing life but remain constantly in my thoughts.