By Perry Hancock, President & CEO of Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home
If you drive around any town or city in Louisiana you will find children in need. Our state has one of the highest poverty rates for children in America.
According to the latest census data, over 300,000 children in Louisiana (29 percent) live below the poverty level. Louisiana is ranked 49th in the nation for overall child well-being and 50th for child economic well-being.
In Monroe, the numbers are even more alarming. The poverty rate for children is almost 57 percent, the highest of the seven largest cities in the state including New Orleans. Monroe is not only the most poverty-stricken city in Louisiana but it is the 4th poorest city in the country.
The demographics show that children make up the largest segment of those living in poverty. These children have low academic outcomes.
They suffer from high rates of social anxiety. They have more health issues than other children. They are more likely to have feelings of depression and despair. Even more disturbing is the fact that these children often have a negative view of God. “If God loves me so much, why doesn’t He do something to help me?”
These precious children have great needs. They need someone who will help them with basic life essentials. They need shoes that fit. They need clothes that are not worn to threads. These children need food. Yes, there are children in your town who do not always have the food they need.
But these precious children have an even greater need. They need to know that they are loved.
They need your church and my church to show up in their lives and say, “We love you and God loves you. God loves you so much that He sent Jesus for you.” These children need to hear the gospel.
Most of us in the church would say, “We do care about these children.” The question is, what are we doing with our care? Jesus’ care and compassion always moved Him to action. He had compassion on them and He fed them. He had compassion on them and He healed them. He had compassion on them and he taught them.
Matthew West challenges all of us to put our care into action with his song, entitled, Do Something. “Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of people living in poverty, children sold into slavery. The thought disgusted me. So, I shook my fist at Heaven and asked, ‘God, why don’t You do something?’ He said, ‘I did. I created you’. If not us, then who? If not me and you. Right now, it’s time for us to do something.”
Scripture is clear about God’s heart for these precious children.
“He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and the lives of the needy He will save.” (Psalm 72:3 NASB) The Bible is also clear about our obligation to help these children. “For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:11 NASB) God also tells us in His Word that He will bless those who help these children. “He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.” (Proverbs 22:9 NASB)
If your church does not currently have a ministry for these children, consider how one could be established.
Begin by asking God for guidance. Pray. Then, discover what others are doing in your community to help these children. Look for needs that are not being met or needs that are underserved.
Once you determine the areas of need, make a “could do” list that matches your church’s passions, gifts, and resources. Choose one project from your list and move forward with the new ministry.
Consider this. Is it possible that a great spiritual awakening could come to your town just because you helped these children?
How? Well, if you meet the needs of the children, you could reach them and their families for Christ. If you reach the families, you could reach whole neighborhoods. Then you could watch God transform your entire community.
Could that happen?
There is one way to find out. In the words of Matthew West speaking for God, “Do something.” Do something for these precious children and watch God move.