Helping Without Hurting

Poverty alleviation is a process in which people, both the materially poor and the materially non-poor, are empowered to move closer to living in right relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation.
— Corbett and Fikkert, “Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence”

Is it possible that our attempts to help people in poverty could actually hurt them? That’s one of the questions our two college interns wrestled with this winter and spring semester. Since 2018, No Walls Ministry has been privileged to partner with the Social Work Department at Liberty University to provide their students opportunities to gain real-world social work experience.

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This semester, we were blessed to have two students working with us: Alisha Mumau from Forest and Zachary Carr from Baltimore, MD.

Alisha and Zachary

Alisha and Zachary

As juniors. they were required to work 100 hours for our ministry. They did invaluable work, like helping us rethink our benevolence efforts and how we can best serve those who come to us looking for financial assistance. Additionally, they put together a comprehensive guide of resources in the Lynchburg community that we can refer those in need of help.

As we met with individuals in our community, it became clear that poverty wasn’t just a lack of material resources (money, food, shelter, etc.). It was a fundamental brokenness in our most key relationships between God, self, others and the rest of creation. This is the biblical view of poverty. The Bible recounts in Genesis 3 how the fall damaged all four of these relationships…for all of us. In that sense, we are all poor, whether we are materially poor or not. We are all in need of the “riches of Christ” that have come to us not by our hard work or family heritage, but by his undeserved grace.

So if we’re going to engage in poverty alleviation, which is part of our mission to make Lynchburg a better community, it must begin with the realization that we are all universally poor, and we are all in need of Christ to restore our most fundamental relationships.

So when someone comes to us in a financial crisis, we seek to help alleviate that crisis. But we quickly move to encouraging them to let No Walls Ministry come alongside them. To the degree we are allowed to develop a relationship with that person or family, we can work together to let the “riches of Christ” alleviate all forms of relational poverty.

Over these last couple of years, God has been gracious and allowed us to build some deep relationships with some of those we’ve helped. He’s also been gracious and not allowed some of those deep relationships to form, often because we need re-reminding that, as the materially non-poor, we are just as poor and in need of Christ’s riches.

Thank you for standing with us as we seek to unite churches to help make Lynchburg a better community…a community that resembles the kingdom of heaven more and more. May it be on earth as it is in heaven.

For you know the grace

of our Lord Jesus Christ,

that though he was rich,

yet for your sake he

became poor, so that you

by his poverty might

become rich.

- 2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV)

ABOUT NO WALLS MINISTRY

No Walls Ministry is committed to uniting churches that are culturally and denominationally different around our shared love for the redeeming work of Christ and our desire to love our city to wholeness.