I first became aware of a community concern one day when listening to the Christian radio station: An organization that serves needy moms in the area was looking for help. The deejay explained that a well-known group that facilitates local adoptions was low on their supply of infant formula. At the end of each month, when the cupboards in local households are growing bare, this group distributes formula to help babies get through a few days without hunger.
Many young moms in the program have worked with this agency to learn options for their pregnancy—alternatives to abortion. Some make an adoption plan. Others opt to parent their children. Many are single moms and most are poor. I’ve been told the line of moms awaiting cans of formula winds down the street. And they always run out of cans before they run out of hopeful faces standing in a queue.
When I became aware of this outreach in the community, it occurred to me that I might be able to help on a regular basis. As a nurse who has worked in the past with the needy, I fear that young moms will begin to dilute the expensive formula that is meant to be prepared appropriately for optimal growth of their children. Infants with inadequate nutrition can carry the side effects throughout their lifetimes. That first year of nutrition is key for a child’s brain development.
Realizing the seriousness of the situation, I envisioned a simple outreach at my own church, though it was miles away from the inner city program that distributes the formula. With our pastor’s blessing, a friend at church and I began a monthly collection of formula and diapers. One of us then delivers the cans and packages to the small storefront location where, in a couple of days, the line will form once again—a line of hope in the midst of poverty.
Am I sharing this story to brag about what a great Christian I am? Hardly. But I have been disturbed by recent stories on social media claiming that all government programs that serve families in need are encouraging an attitude of entitlement.
Are some of the recipients taking advantage of a government that encourages a welfare state? Absolutely. Does that mean we throw out the “baby with the bath water” as the old saying goes? I say, that is a heartless and ill-informed approach. There are many families who need a helping hand in difficult times and, while we’d like to think the local churches will foot the bill, that doesn’t always happen.
I worked in one of these “welfare” programs years ago that provided nutritional guidance, medical evaluations and food to young children. Were there families who took advantage? Yes. Were there families who were truly in need being helped? Absolutely.
The ones I remember the most were the handicapped kids who needed special formulas to survive. They were dependent on tube feedings and the cost was enormous. If the families involved had to purchase a month’s supply from their monthly income, they would have been thrust into deep poverty that would impact the entire family. When there is a special needs child in a home, it becomes a family affair—a blessing, albeit a difficult and costly one.
We can be all about pro-life, but will we allow our taxes to help maintain a life that is not convenient? It’s food for thought while sipping on our lattes.
Even regular infant formula is very expensive. The can that I purchased this week was $25 and that was the “sale” price. And the amount in that can will only feed a baby for a few days.
While I am not endorsing a liberal attitude of “free food for all,” I am endorsing compassion. And I’m encouraging Christians to pray and seek ways that we can be the hands of Jesus in a world where “the poor will always be with us.”
In our efforts as conservatives trying to be fiscally responsible, we can be in danger of ignoring God’s commands to help the poor. “He who is kind to the poor, lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.” Proverbs 19:17
Instead of ranting on social media about attitudes of entitlement, perhaps a Christ-like attitude of rallying the Christian community to works of compassion would please the Savior Who loved us even when we didn’t love Him.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…” Matthew 25: 35
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3: 17-18
“He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” Proverbs 28: 27