The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) commends those member denominations, churches, organizations and individuals who have been reaching out to the poor and hungry. We need to give sacrificially to help our neighbors. However, solutions to hunger and poverty must be grounded in faith in God, commitment to work, personal responsibility and family solidarity. As Evangelicals, we must model these values even as we care for the needs of the poor. As they see Christ’s love in us, our evangelistic witness will become more credible.
Our concern for meeting physical needs is rooted in Scripture. Biblical doctrines such as the creation of man (Gen. 2:7), the incarnation of Jesus Christ (John 1:14) and the resurrection of the body (I Cor. 25:4-8) testify to God’s concern for people’s physical needs. While our Lord’s primary mission was to die for the sins of many (Mark 10:45), He demonstrated God’s mercy and compassion by healing the sick and feeding the hungry. The Bible teaches us to “do good to all men, especially to those of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). We are to be rich in good deeds, to be liberal and generous and to show hospitality to strangers (I Tim. 6:18; Heb. 13:2-3). Moreover, the Scriptures bluntly warn us that if we close our hearts against a needy brother, the love of God does not abide in us (I John 3: 17).
These Christian duties are especially relevant because the number of Americans who are periodically hungry or malnourished totals in the millions according to reliable sources. Limited government resources and the ineffectiveness of some government programs make personal and private sector assistance essential. Christians lay disagree about appropriate government roles, and they should debate political prescriptions for addressing human needs. However, most would agree that government programs alone are no panacea for the problem of poverty. Therefore, individually and corporately, Evangelicals have the duty and privilege to minister to people in need. By so doing, we give integrity to our witness and bring moral and spiritual renewal to our land.