We are all connected. Anything that affects one of us affects each of us. Given that, we know that times are tough for a lot of us today. Have you found yourself trading sympathetic glances or talking about the state of the nation or world with strangers at the next gas pump? Have you asked for help from friends and relatives to pay routine bills or been asked to help your relatives or friends with bills? Have you changed your driving habits or been more frugal about spending money? Are you genuinely worried about the future?
Housing, transportation and financial services industries are scrambling to reorganize to survive. Individuals are finding that the $25 they used to have left over after filling their gas tank is no longer there to buy milk and bread for the family. People are dipping into their savings to pay bills. The government is facing a squeeze, so money it once gave for direct services to people is now being redirected. Grant allocations are stagnant or being cut.
As the president of the non-profit Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), which serves those in need with the help and support of government and donors, we are having to tighten our belts too and think about how many more notches to take it in during the months to come. The costs of food and fuel to serve people in our facilities are climbing through the roof. The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published a report called, “Giving’s Tough Climate: Economic Woes put Damper on Some Donations in 2007.” It cites organizations that are downsizing their staffs and halting projects and programs because the giving well is drying up.
Historically, people of faith have given the largest amount of money to charitable causes. In the U.S., they donate at least 33 percent of all of the money given to faith-based non-profits. That is not surprising when you consider the teachings that people of faith live by: “Give to those in need,” “Whoever gives will be given a great reward,” and “Take care of widows and orphans.” The ability to give to others in the face of one’s own needs is what marks people of faith. It is believed that as the economy worsens, faith-based donors have been channeling additional charitable dollars to non-religious based causes that provide vital human needs, such as water, food and other forms of emergency relief or social services. However, the demands on such organizations are increasing. Aside from the rising demand for services, there is shrinking government, foundation and corporate support looming for direct aid to clients.
So what should you do to meet your own family’s needs and the needs of those you know? What should agencies like the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries do? I believe we should follow the same course of action. Know that we need wisdom if we are to take care of our own responsibilities while we continue to share with others in need. Ask for guidance from God and from those who have been given wisdom in such matters. Do not see struggles or adversity as a reason to neglect our responsibilities, but strive instead to even improve on what we are doing and how we do it. View current challenges as the opportunity we have been given to re-evaluate our priorities and make sure they are in the right place. Reach out to accomplish in partnership with others what our own resources cannot accomplish. Look for new avenues to meet needs and seek education to do more with what we have. Finally, continue to have faith that if we do the best we can and really love Him and our neighbors, God will see us through despite any mistakes we may make or our lack of knowledge. If we do these things, we will do well for ourselves and those around us.