Category Archives: Poverty

The Golden Rule: Serving Others with Dignity

Matthew 7:12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

When I was a child my parents would frequently use the “Golden Rule” in order to appease the continuous fighting between my two younger brothers and me. I vividly remember my father sitting my younger brother and me on the couch after a particular scuffle involving name calling and a few punches. I was expecting Dad to take my side, to tell my brother that he was wrong and that I was right. Instead, my dad told us that regardless of the subject matter, our behavior was completely unacceptable. Rather than agreeing to disagree, we decided to act violently to settle our differences. We were not treating each other with respect and dignity in our disagreements. That’s when my dad told us that we needed to treat others the way we wanted to be treated. This was my first introduction to this rule. Not only was it a motto for my childhood home, it was a phrase that has remained relevant in all parts of my life.

The Golden Rule does not only apply to childhood fights. It serves as a guide for Christian servitude. We are children of God, and our Father expects us to behave with our brothers and sisters. We are expected by God to treat our fellow brothers and sisters with respect in our behaviors, actions, and service. I was reminded of this when we served Open Door Ministries.

Sorting toys at Open Door Ministries in Omaha.
Sorting toys at Open Door Ministries in Omaha.

In June, we had the opportunity to serve at various outreach programs throughout Omaha. At Open Door Ministries, individuals who are homeless or are in need of shelter can come to the ministry and receive assistance. The ministry also has a store where individuals can shop for items for free. People who come to the store may receive kitchen supplies, food, toys, and hygienic products without cost. While we were serving there, a few of us were directed to the back to help sort out shaving razors that had been donated. We spent about an hour sorting through thousands of razors. In the middle of sorting, I saw something that broke my heart and angered me all at once. I picked up a razor that had blades coated with rust. If an individual had used this razor and cut themselves, the person would have been in danger of contracting tetanus. I was very angry. Why would someone donate this? Why would they not buy a decent razor for those in need? Did this person think it was acceptable to donate their trash to a person in need? I slammed the rusted razor in the trash. I continued to think about that razor as we continued to sort. As I thought of it, I was reminded that this person was not the only person who donated essentially trash to the poor. I have donated things that would have been better to leave in the trash can than on a shelf at Goodwill. I would not have given my brothers that stuff. Why did I think that a stranger in need deserved it?

The Golden Rule is applicable to many areas in our lives. It teaches us to not start fights with our brothers and sister, in our immediate family and in our Christ family. It teaches us to be kind and respectful. For me, it has taught me to show kindness in my giving. If I did not have a home and was in need of assistance, how would I feel about receiving a rusty razor or expired food? If I was getting a toy for my child, how would I feel if I was handed a toy with multiple stains or that was broken? In a time of need, I know that I would like to be treated with dignity and respect. With my giving, I will be more attentive on the conditions of the items that I give so I may respect the individual who will receive them.

By: Sarah Nelson

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The Power of Literature: Representing Children in Books

While discussing with Susan Burton about the many different aspects of poverty, charity, and advocacy we also began to recognize that racism is a definitive factor as well as the others.  After more discussion, Burton brought out a large selection of children’s books.  Not just any children’s books; these books featured children of color.  Now Burton herself isn’t of African American descent, but her two adopted daughters are and because of this she is extremely diligent about what and whom she brings into her household.  This includes the kind of books that she purchases, explaining that America has normalized “whiteness.”  This means that in a world that has become increasingly multicultural over the years, the media has remained the same.  Children are growing up surrounded by micro racism manifesting itself in their books, tv, and music.  It has gotten to a point of normalcy for children of color not to see a person that looks like them in the media and even at school.

The image below is of a book that I read at my elementary school as third grader, and just recently purchased in Washington DC at the age of 18.  It is a wonderful book and one that has stuck with me through the years, however it has never been available at conventional bookstores.  Years later on a one week trip to Washington DC with Micah Corps on my day off, I finally found the book at the National Smithsonian Museum of American History of all places. It’s called The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton. It is not a banned book, nor a controversial book, but a book about slavery and the wish for freedom.

Pursuing the IMG_1972children’s books section at any bookstore will reveal many lovely works of literature. However I have made it my personal goal to curate a collection of children’s books that reveal the multicultural world we live in.  My major being elementary education, I know that someday I will have a classroom full of the children of God.  They need to know that they are loved unconditionally no matter appearance, religion, or gender.  Books may seem like a very small detail and that would be a correct assumption, but books have a way of sticking with you through the years.  Only in books can a child travel to different worlds without leaving the couch.  Through their pages a child can become anyone, so let’s give them the tools they need for years of exploration. By representing children of all backgrounds and races in the literature they’re exposed to we show them that they are normal. Equality can begin with something as simple as a children’s book.  Open doors, open minds, open hearts; it all starts with the little things in life.

– Brookelyn Brown