The Advocate

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					                     The Advocate
                         A Paper and Portal of Reformed Social Action
                                   April 2001 (Issue 0301 )
                          From the Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action

Inside this Issue:

Job Opportunity
What to do about pan-handlers: How to respond with integrity and compassion
Bread for the World Headlines
A Reader Responds to the Church in Society Issue
CRC Responds to the AIDS Epidemic in West Africa--Update II
CRCNA Conference Makes History: Criminal Justice Consultation
The Key to Social Transformation
Sick of Stuff?
Food for Thought
Advocate Calendar
Contact Information


                                        Job Opportunity
National Church Outreach Associate

A senior-level person responsible for building and strengthening the organization at the
national church level. Will perform fundraising and relationship-building among
denominational church agencies, religious orders, and national church leaders-Catholic,
Protestant, and Evangelical. Must have proven fundraising skills and experience; excellent
writing and verbal skills; ability to travel 8-10 weeks a year; a broad knowledge of Bible and
theology; strong leadership and public speaking skills; teaching and workshops skills; ability to
work with diverse people; computer literacy; and a Christian faith perspective.

All interested candidates should send a cover letter, resume, availability, salary requirements
and references to:
Katherine Simmons,
Human Resources Manager
Bread for the World
50 F Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20001
Fax: (202) 639-9401
NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.
Bread for the World is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
 What to do about pan-handlers: How to respond with integrity and compassion
                by Katie Cook, Hunger News and Hope, A Seeds of Hope Publication
Dear Readers: We are confronted with opportunities every day in which we can act justly towards our fellow man
and woman. Sometimes, the action we must take (or abstain from, as the case may be) to bring about justice
(goodness, mercy, shalom) is clear to us. Other times, we haven't a clue as to how we must uphold justice and
goodness, we only know that we yearn to, that we must, and so our thoughts fumble about awkwardly as we consider
this option or consider that one, hoping with a cringe that we chose to do the "right" thing, the just thing. The
following article by Katie Cook addresses just such a situation of "What do I do?"--how do we respond with
integrity and compassion to the homeless person asking for spare change? Ms. Cook raises familiar concerns and
gives creative solutions. Take some time to contemplate this article and the questions it poses, and how you may
seize those everyday opportunities to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. -Managing Editor

All across the country one runs into people--usually homeless people--standing at highway
intersections holding signs that say "will work for food" or some such message--or standing on
busy streets, asking for money.

Many of us believe, after looking at the twenty-fifth chapter of the gospel of Matthew, that
something should be done to help such people. But we don't know what, exactly, that we
should do. Is there a "right" thing to do? If so, what is it, and is the "right" thing always the
same?

I know--from years of experience in emergency assistance to the poor--that sometimes those
people are in earnest, and sometimes they are not. In one town, I know many of the street
people by name. I know that fourteen or so of them are running a well-organized and
successful scam; they sometimes bring in sixty dollars or more in one day, and they spend it on
alcohol and other substances.

But I also know several street people--in that same town--who honestly want to work and earn
their meals. I have worked directly with them to help them find day labor or odd jobs. In that
town, I know who is "legit" and who is not.

But what if you don't know them? And what about the ones you know are "conning" you, but
you also know they're hungry?

Do you go ahead and help them, with the conviction that deciding whether someone is
"worthy" or not is a pietistic, self-serving attitude? The agency where I worked embraced a
policy that said, "We should never turn away someone if there is ANY chance they really need
assistance. If we are to err, we will do it on the side of being too generous."

That is a good policy--and, I think, a moral and biblical one. But what about substance abuse?
If I give money to an alcoholic or crack addict, don't I become an enabler of that chemical
dependency? In that case, it would seem that I shouldn't give someone money unless I am well-
enough acquainted with that person to know for sure that there is no substance abuse.
But how can you tell the difference, when you don't have time to work several years in a
feeding program and get to know the local poverty population personally? Is there something
else you can give? Something you can do that you know won't be destructive?

Several years ago, when the Seeds of Hope staff were in New York City, we talked with friends
about this question. One of them, Mark, had an agreement with the owners of a local coffee
shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he lived. His practice was to instruct street
people to go to this coffee shop for a meal and tell them Mark sent him.
Another of the friends, Doug, suggested that we give our "doggie bag" to one of the beggars in
the Village. We did, and he was profuse in his thanks: "Oh, wow! Chinese food! And it's still
warm. This is wonderful!")

I mentioned that I usually suggested to people in Central Texas that, if they really want to help,
they can go around to a fast food place and get a hamburger or go home and make a
sandwich--and then bring it back to the person.

I told them about a woman I know in Fort Worth who prepares several reclosable bags filled
with soap, toothpaste, and other toiletries-and keeps them in her car to give to homeless people
asking for money. Her feeling is that, if the person is an addict, the toiletries won't do any
harm. "And, after all," she says, "I'm not out very much."

My friends and I discussed all these things as we walked around the city, literally stepping
around people in the subways and huddled on street corners. We had begun to feel powerless;
there was no way to respond to all the people we saw. We finally, however, came up with what
I think is a good idea. Here it is:

How about giving gift certificates to a coffee shop or fast food restaurant? Many of those
establishments regularly produce booklets of certificates. They would be easy to obtain, and
you could carry them in a pocket.

If you really want to help the hungry without being exploited, and without becoming a
chemical codependent, try this idea. If the person refuses it and only wants money, that gives
you a pretty good idea as to his or her motives. If he or she is really hungry, the certificates will
be welcome. If he or she asks for money instead, simply say you have no money (which for me
is usually the bald truth,) just the certificates.

Since we ran a story with this idea in Seeds Magazine in 1992, I have heard from a number of
people who have tried some variation of these ideas. One seminary student never left her
apartment without taking a piece of fruit to give to the first street person she saw.

Another student keeps a supply of granola bars in her car. One man goes by a hamburger
place before he gets to the intersection where the panhandlers stand.

Another woman takes all the bread that comes to her table in restaurants, and then goes off to
find someone to give it to. A church group on mission in Chicago drove around with "to-go"
boxes of food, looking for people who looked hungry. A pastor in Waco, Texas stops and
volunteers to drive the person to the emergency assistance agency.

There's the idea. It's worth a try. Maybe these people are "on the make," and maybe they're not.
But they're hungry. And these ideas are better than taking another street (yes, I admit: I've done
it) in order to avoid the eyes of a hungry person.

Visit Seeds online at www.seedspublishers.org for Hunger News and Hope, or for resources for
worship.
   News from Bread for the World: Representatives Leach and Payne Introduce
                         Hunger to Harvest Resolution
Representatives Jim Leach (R-IA) and Donald Payne (D-NJ) have recently introduced before
Congress a resolution entitled "Hunger to Harvest Resolution: A Decade of Concern for Africa"
(H. Con. Res. 102.) The resolution calls for the years 2002 to 2012 to be a decade of concern
for Africa during which the United States would provide additional development aid to reduce
hunger and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Bread for the World North Central Regional Organizer Larry Hollar, "this is an
excellent time to organize an Offering of Letters in your churches or community groups in
support of the resolution." Bread for the World's Offering of Letters (a letter writing campaign
to members of Congress) seeks to cut hunger in sub-Saharan Africa in half. Offering of Letters
kits include a video, poster, and information on how to plan an Offering of Letters in your
church or organization. Mr. Hollar cautions to make clear in the letters that one is referring to
H. Con. Res. 102, as H. Res. 102 is an entirely different piece of legislation.
In response to the introduction of the resolution, Bread for the World President David
Beckmann said:

"I applaud the leadership and vision of Representatives Leach and Payne in introducing the
'Hunger to Harvest' resolution. This bipartisan team deserves enormous credit for standing up
and taking the lead on this effort to lift up the millions of poor and hungry people in sub-
Saharan Africa. With only a modest commitment, we know how to cut world hunger in half by
2015. We have the resources to make it happen. The only missing ingredient has been political
leadership, but with Representatives Leach and Payne out in front, we have able stewards
leading the way.

"This will be a rallying cry for Bread for the World members, who will soon begin flooding
congressional offices with urgent pleas to support this resolution. Our plan is to generate a
growing body for support for this resolution that the Congressional budget writers cannot
ignore. If our recent work to convince a skeptical Congress to fund debt relief is any gauge, a
grassroots, faith-based movement can beat the odds and win great victories for the world's
poor and hungry people."

If you would like to support the Hunger to Harvest resolution and other anti-hunger efforts
through an Offering of Letters, visit Bread for the World online at www.bread.org for ordering
information. (Kits are $7.00 for members, $9.00 for non-members.)
If you would like to read the text for H. Con. Res. 102 (Hunger to Harvest Resolution), visit
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query

  National Gathering on Africa, June 2001, Invitation from Bread for the World
Join us in June for a very special National Gathering on Africa. Hundreds of people of faith
from across the country will come to Washington, DC, for a time of worship, education and
advocacy around the issues raised in the Africa: Hunger to Harvest campaign.

This National gathering, co-hosted by Bread for the World and several denominations and
faith-based development organizations, will offer an opportunity to learn much more about
Africa: Hunger to Harvest and ways to strengthen your role as an advocate for Africa in your
community, campus or parish. Through interactive workshops, exciting keynote speakers,
worship, and special events, you will meet with Africans and people from around the United
States who are interested in these issues. Our time together will culminate with a Lobby Day on
Capitol Hill where we will bring Africa: Hunger to Harvest legislation to the attention of our
nation's decision-makers.

Please plan on taking part in this important gathering. Hunger in Africa can be cut in half by
the year 2015, but churches and charities cannot do it alone. We must also get our
government to do its part, and we must start now.
For more information call 1-800-82-BREAD. We look forward to seeing you in June!
-Bread for the World


                  A Reader Responds to the Role of the Church Discussion
The following letter is in response to an ongoing and evolving discussion in this newsletter about the role or place of
the church in issues of social justice, prompted by an article, "The Church Institute in the World," published in the
Canadian periodical, the Christian Courier. Letters posted in the Advocate may be edited for clarity and length. -
M.E.

CRC voices had a lot of discussions about this topic in the last few years. Reformed members
always had a lot of social justice topic discussions since the Bible indicated our Lord was Lord
of all.

In the Netherlands, the Reformed groups decided to have various organizations associated with
1) lower education 2) labour 3) politics 4) University to name a few. They were not owned by
a church, but the members were all Reformed and the policies were always associated with
Reformed ideas. The organizations were large enough to have a lot of influence on public
policies. Secular, Catholic and Reformed citizens all set up their own independent
organizations…

…In the USA, the society decided to remove the connection between church and public
policy…However, independent associations were not set up properly. Now, any association
claiming to be religiously based but not owned by any church are still attacked as if they were
owned by churches. In the USA, Reformed groups did set up some organizations, but with the
exception of education organizations, they were generally not very well supported.

In Canada, churches were allowed to discuss public policies and influence the government as
they saw fit. Many Christians became involved in Politics and many main line churches had
public policy committees.

When Reformed members came to Canada in the fifties, they set up societies as they did in
Holland. However, they were relatively small and ineffectual in influencing public life. The
other churches did not understand such organizations and found them rather strange claiming
them to be Christian in character as if all other organizations influenced by other Christians
were not! Nevertheless, labour and public policy as well as education societies could be set up
legally and found a place in Canadian society by obtaining support from more types of
Christians than Reformed.

Lately, since the Christian influence is fading in Canada, many churches have started to set up
public committees and many have begun to work together. This makes the Reformed churches
difficult to work with since independent organizations are not recognized as being from a
church!

What needs to happen in the States is that the organizations for labour and politics need to be
supported by Reformed members with as much enthusiasm as they support schools.

In Canada, the church's organizations are working closely together, which means the
Reformed churches need to do the same. It is, however, rather difficult… It does take a lot of
time.

-August Guillaume


              CRC Responds to AIDS Epidemic in West Africa-Update II
In the last issue of The Advocate, we reported that CRWRC-Senegal along with the Eglise
Protestante du Senegal had been asked by the World Council of Churches to organize a
regional conference on AIDS. The conference was scheduled for March, but has been moved to
April 23-25, 2001.

The local organizers are the Eglise Protestant du Senegal (Protestant Reformed Church of
Senegal), the CPCS (the Protestant Coordinating Committee for AIDS Prevention and Action,
which is the collaborative action committee of the Lutheran, Methodist, and Protestant
churches of Senegal) and CRWRC-Senegal. The overall organizer is the World Council of
Churches and the All-Africa Council of Churches. The invitations are out, the logistics in place,
and the program nearly finalized for the expected seventy-five West African church leaders
and approximately twenty-five people from Europe, North America and other regions. A report
of the conference will be sent out within a few months after the conference.

Wyva Hasselblad, Country Consultant for CRWRC (Senegal) asks for your prayers for this
important meeting of churches and committees.


         CRCNA Conference Makes History: Criminal Justice Consultation
Although criminal justice is not normally the first thing that springs to mind when we consider
the proper role of the instituted church, the Christian Reformed denomination made history of
sorts when it hosted a conference precisely on that topic in Grand Rapids last February 22-23.
For the first time ever, the CRCNA invited knowledgeable people to gather at Calvin College in
order "... to put our hearts and minds together to suggest directions for a long-term Christian
Reformed response to the increasingly dysfunctional criminal justice systems in the US and
Canada."

Four presenters delivered informative addresses while six others contributed insightful written
observations. All of this formed the basis for small group discussions and idea-generating
workshops that led in turn to the articulation of specific recommendations. According to what
participants wrote on their evaluation sheets, it was a productive and helpful conference.
Among the thirty or so participants were judges, lawyers, chaplains, correctional officers and
interested others.
At the end a strong consensus had emerged in support of Restorative Justice, an approach that
places the emphasis in sentencing on the healing of relationships rather than on retribution.
Participants felt that the CRCNA needs to develop a more comprehensive and more intentional
ministry to people in jails, and to apply greater resources --professional (staff) and voluntary -
- to prison ministries.

Given the fact that over two million people are in US prisons alone, opportunities for
compassionate ministry, both to convicts and to victims, are plentiful. Anyone interested or
called to serve in this regard is encouraged to ask for a copy of our report titled: ON THE
FRONT LINE IN THE STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE. Copies may be obtained by contacting Kathy at
the Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action, calkinsk@crcna.org, or (616) 224-0840.

-Reinder Klein, Social Justice Coordinator CRCNA-Canada


                              The Key to Social Transformation
"Community transformation is the reversal of alienation and the restoration of God's order in
creation and God's intent for us to be imagebearers of the Godhead. It is the power of the
gospel revealed in both word and deed. It is the gift of God's shalom."

-by Manuel Ortiz, from "Shalom: The Key to Social Transformation," The Banner, April 9, 2001

Read more about the effect of sin on community ("…we must recognize that personal sin
affects the social environment just as social sin affects the individual,") the necessity to restore
shalom ("The vision of shalom must be incorporated by the church and by the Christian
community involved in community development,") and community transformation ("The
church in community is the most effective vehicle for holistic community transformation,") in
Manuel Oriz's article in the April 9, 2001 issue of The Banner.


                                          Sick of Stuff?
Are you frustrated by your own consumerism--by the focus on generating stuff in your life or
in the lives of your family? Visit Alternatives for Simple Living (www.SimpleLiving.org.)
Alternatives is a non-profit organization that "equips people of faith to challenge consumerism,
live justly and celebrate responsibly." You may already be familiar with the organization's
"Whose Birthday Is It Anyway?" publication for Christmas.


                                        Food for Thought
Number of U.S. billionaires in 1999: 168
Number of people living below the poverty line in 1999: 34.5 million

-Compiled by Leana McQueen in Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures www.yesmagazine.org
                                       Advocate Calendar
The Coordinating Council for Church in Society (CCCiS) met in Sarnia, Ontario on April 20-
21.

April 23-25: Regional Conference on AIDS, West Africa. See the update, "CRC Responds to
AIDS Epidemic in West Africa," above.

June 23-26: National Gathering on Africa, co-hosted by Bread for the World. See article above
for more information.

Correction RE: Call for Action to Help our Brothers and Sisters in Cuba, issue 0201. The stance against the Cuba
embargo is supported by the Board of Trustees on behalf of the CRCNA, and is in part a response to a plea from the
synod of the CRC in Cuba for a political stance. The synod of the CRC has taken no action on this issue. The
Advocate apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused.


Contact Information for The Advocate
Editor: Peter Vander Meulen
Managing Editor: Tracy Young
Contact: youngt@crcna.org
The Advocate is a publication of the Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action of the Christian Reformed Church
2850 Kalamazoo Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49560
To remove your name from our mailing list, please send an e-mail with your request to youngt@crcna.org

				
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