Most informed Christians know what Jesus said about ministering to the “least of these”—to those who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, and imprisoned (Matt. 25:31-46). What we seem less willing to grasp is that ministry to those in needs costs those of us who are not in need, just like it cost the so-called Good Samaritan.
Today’s children of poverty and discrimination often fit the first five categories of Matthew 25. If we do not do something to help in their current need, chances are many of them will end up in the sixth category—imprisoned—as well.
This is urgent. Lives depend on it.
My children are grown now, but during their early years I always sprang into action when something threatened their future. Because I loved them, I worked hard on their behalf. Our own children are our first responsibility, but they are not our only responsibility.
Today’s children of poverty and discrimination need help from individuals, churches, schools, and governments. Individuals and churches are best equipped to address some of the issues noted above—the stresses of daily living and the psychological challenges people face. Schools and governments are better equipped for others—substandard housing, unsafe neighborhoods, and inadequate schools.
This situation requires a broad and concerted effort. It is a big challenge, but the United States has not let the bigness of a challenge discourage it—landing a person on the moon and defeating the Axis powers of World War II come to mind.
The familiar starfish story comes to mind. As the man tossed a few of many starfish back into the life-giving ocean he did not let his inability to save every starfish stop him from saving the ones he could.
One of my retired neighbors continues to work on a contract with the local public school district. Chris chose specifically to work with “at-risk” kids in learning math. He’s a contemporary Good Samaritan; he is “saving” as many children as possible.
We need more people like Chris and more churches, school districts, and governmental bodies tackling this challenge. Futures depend on it. And those of us who seek to follow Christ may have the chance to affect the eternal futures of some of the children we help.
Ferrell Foster is director of ethics and justice for the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission. Translation by Elsa Romero of the Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio.