A Strategy for GivingMelanie Mokgatla
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality”.
We do not want to be neutral about the suffering that image bearers of our God experience – we want to be compassionate and motivated by grace to extend ourselves and offer comfort.
The reality is, sometimes – maybe even a lot of the time – we are just too busy or distracted to deal with the requests for help that present themselves to us. This can lead to a few different outcomes;
- We give because we want the uncomfortable situation to be ‘over’ or because we feel guilt. This compromises the dignity of the person before you and can also lead you into unwise habits.
- We don’t give at all. This could mean that you miss an opportunity to hear from God about what he requires of you in the moment.
- We don’t give because we feel unprepared to do so. We don’t carry cash or know the area well enough to refer a person in the right direction.
We suggest that you spend some time considering the following questions to help you develop a kind of strategy or action plan. That way, even when life is busy or you’re having a difficult day, you can be sure that you won’t miss the opportunity to meet the moment that is before you.
PART ONE: BEFORE YOU ARE APPROACHED WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE
We suggest you start by listening to this podcast. It’s a few people chatting about their experiences and theories when it comes to giving.
Then answer these questions:
HOW DO I CURRENTLY GIVE? HOW WOULD I DESCRIBE MY GIVING STYLE?
Perhaps you are already giving to your local church or to someone who you have built a relationship with – those are great places to offer financial or tangible donation support. Perhaps you feel pressured or manipulated into giving to a certain person due to guilt – that’s not a great outcome. Maybe you simply do not feel like you have the money to give in this season. Maybe you have decided you give food or drink when approached, but not cash. Examine and define your current situation.
DO I HAVE ANY RELUCTANCE/FEARS ABOUT GIVING IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS? WHY IS THAT?
Take some time to hash out situations where you feel you should not be giving, for example, in an instance when your personal safety could be compromised. Be aware that in this examination you will likely be presented with your own biases or stereotypes that could lead you to judge others. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit – to bring up these things and allow us to hand them over in repentance. Remember the words of God through the prophet Hosea when he says, ‘’…I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. For kindness I desired, and not sacrifice.” (Hosea 6:6)
PRAYERFULLY SIT WITH YOUR RESPONSES TO THESE PROVOKING QUESTIONS. READ SCRIPTURE. ASK GOD TO SPEAK
Suggested Scriptures for this are Micah 6:8, Zech 7:9-10, Amos 5 and Psalm 82:3.
PART TWO: WHEN YOU ARE APPROACHED FOR HELP OR WITH A OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE
Pretend you’re walking into PnP to buy groceries for your household, or crossing the parking lot or road. Someone approaches you and asks for help.
Begin by taking a deep breath. You may be feeling really inconvenienced right now – it’s ok to feel that way, but you don’t have to be rude. Answer the following
DO YOU HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PERSON BEFORE YOU? Yes or No
WHAT IS THIS PERSON ASKING FOR? WHAT COULD THIS COST YOU? Time, Money or Goods (food, a lift to a station etc). Is it something they could get or do for themselves if you were not in the picture? If so, try to find a way to enable them to access what they need for themselves- this action restores dignity and shows them that they are able.
ARE YOU IN A POSITION TO HELP? Yes or No.
DO YOU KNOW WHERE THIS PERSON COULD GO TO GET HELP? IF SO, CAREFULLY REFER THEM. Explain what the organisation or place does. Tell them where it is, offer directions or to drive them there if you feel safe enough to do so. Offer to pay their taxi fare or Uber them – this could be a really pivotal moment for them. Take a look at some of the places local Justice Ministry Teams have suggested to us in the Cape Town area, here.
If you stick to a referral method, WHY NOT MAKE A DONATION TO THAT ORG? Their existence has helped you to serve another person so it is only right to support the work they do. If you don’t know a place to refer them, have a google or ask your community if they know of a place. Write on Facebook groups for the area you live in and find out what operates in the area. Ask people via Instagram Stories, maybe they can point out a good place. Next time, you will be equipped!
STEP THREE: FACING SYSTEMIC ISSUES
Finally, there may be a situation where you are asked to help in a certain way, but when you consider it, you determine that the reason this situation exists is something deeper – something systemic needs to change in order for this person to be helped in the best possible way. These are questions for you to ponder in that instance.
DO I DISCERN/SEE SOMETHING UNJUST THAT I WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN?
Ask yourself, when I see _____ (ie: someone without food, a child alone in the street), I feel moved to act. What are places or people groups that you feel drawn to or passionate about?
DO I PERSONALLY HAVE CAPACITY/DESIRE TO BUILD RELATIONALLY IN THIS SPHERE?
Jesus modeled relationship and conversation as a way to serve individuals in need. What can you shift in your diary to truly engage in matters of injustice with relationship? What NGOs or churches are engaging with those you feel called to serve? Go learn from them and consider serving alongside them.
WHAT IS MY PROXIMITY TO THE INJUSTICE?
How often do I see it? Do I know of the need or do I know the people in need? What do I know about this? What do I still need to learn? What are the proposed solutions and where can I offer myself to making an impact? Giving, volunteering, advocating, activism are all possible action points in this instance and it’s up to you to decide how you can best serve the moment.
We’re so glad you’re on this journey to understand how you can best give in different circumstances.
If you have a perspective you’d like to share, or maybe a situation that you’re facing that you’d like to discuss further, please feel free to reach out to us and if we can, we’d love to help you navigate those waters.