Love The Hague blog – April 2019
In this blog we want to look back at a wonderful and inspiring time we had with our guest speaker Natalie Williams who visited us in March, giving us so much input from the Bible and helped us to look at how we can practically care for those in need around us. In this blog you will find a very short summary of the Saturday morning seminar and Sunday preaching, followed by some practical information and book recommendations.
‘Called to care for the poor’ seminar
We dived straight away into the Bible. No better place to start then looking at what God says about care for the poor. From looking at how laws were being put into place to provide for and protect those in poverty, to the story of Joseph showing God’s concern for both His own people and the Egyptians to not go hungry no matter what they had done or would do in future, to Esther’s story telling us that celebrating God’s rescuing power included giving gifts to the poor, to looking at how God promises blessings to those who look after the hungry and needy. Then from the Old Testament we went into the New Testament where first of all Jesus’ life shows to be a reflection of Isaiah 61 and Luke 4:18 as He brings good news to the poor through feeding the hungry, healing the sick, forgiving sin, bringing hope to the weary and broken. Acts 2 gives us a picture of the early church, where everyone had everything in common and there was no one in need among them. How would it look like if God’s people in our own city lived life in such a way that there would be no one in need in our city anymore? What a great challenge this is!
Areas, people groups or issues in the city we are concerned about
During the Saturday morning we did a post-it exercise to define geographical areas, people groups to reach or issues we would like to be involved in. Areas that were most mentioned were the red-light district, Moerwijk/Haagse Markt area and the city centre. A lot of different people groups were mentioned but the ones most often were: refugees, youth, those struggling with addiction and/or with mental health issues, women in prostitution, prisoners, children in need, homeless, disabled and lonely people. The issues that came up most were foster care, literacy, (un)employment, loneliness, integration of refugees and human trafficking.
We went into small groups to share and pray about these areas and groups of people.
Seeing ‘the poor’ as gifts from God to us
On Sunday morning Natalie spoke with us about God’s heart for the poor with the central message being God’s mercy. Mercy is not a word often used in society and she challenged us with the question how the city would look different if mercy was most central in the city and how mercy should be the defining feature in the churches of the city, when the church would be known as the place of unlimited mercy.
Natalie shared about how we often feel easier compassion and an urge to help someone in need when we see a picture of starving children in comparison with seeing a homeless person with a sign up saying: ‘why lie, I want beer’. We looked at two stories from the Bible where compassion was shown to those in need. The first story someone was victimized through circumstances and in the other story need came through own choices, yet the Father figure in both of these stories acted in the same way, with mercy and kindness. (you can look up 2 Sam. 9:3-11 and Luke 15) This is how God treats all of us and He asks us to be merciful as He is merciful. Often we ask ourselves: ‘do we need to help everyone asking for help’, or when people are ungrateful we feel a cut off in our heart in regards to compassion. But we forget that showing mercy and kindness have everything to do with the Giver and Who He is, not with the object of His mercy. As receivers of Jesus unlimited love and mercy we are all called as followers of Christ to extend the same love and mercy to those around us. Natalie ended with sharing how God will bring the poor as a gift to us. As different people in need come into our church or as we come in contact with them, let’s see them as God’s gift to us.
If you want to connect with people having the same passion for a group of people or area in The Hague, let us help you get together to pray and talk about possible ways of getting engaged in the city. And for all of us: let’s in our day to day life try to apply this attitude of mercy by asking ourselves the question: ‘How can I show God’s kindness to someone today?’
‘The myth of the undeserving poor’ and ‘Church for the poor’, both co-written by Natalie.