Sunday, March 20, 2011

Florida Church Spontaneously Gives $5.6 million to Help the Homeless in their Area

There are times when I'm critical of the church's response to the tremendous need that we are seeing across our country. My criticism is often tempered because I know that there are countless churches in our nation - and beyond - that are making heroic efforts to fight poverty.

"Responding to the homeless from "a stirring" deep in their hearts, the congregation of First Baptist Church in Orlando raised $5.6 million in donations and pledges for the needy of Central Florida with an impromptu offering March 12-13."

"“We’ve had a stirring in our heartand spirit that God placed the church here for this time because of foreclosures, because of this new homelessness,” Senior Pastor David Uth said. “We believe we were put here by divine choice and we have got to make a difference.”"

"And make a difference is what the people of First Baptist Orlando did."

"Danny de Armas, senior associate pastor said he was surprised by the unprecedented response.
“I am completely overwhelmed by what our people have done,” de Armas said.“I never expected this kind of number.”"

"The outpouring of love and generosity was a result of a March 6 story on the CBS news program 60 Minuteswhich Liz Butler, the marketing/communications manager at the church, described as a "new" kind of homelessness in Central Florida."

"Families are living in motels because they lost their jobs, their homes to foreclosure, Butler said.
The news report was seen by millions of viewers across the country."

"One of the viewers was Christian author and teacher Bruce Wilkinson who was already scheduled to speak at First Baptist Orlando during the March 12-13 weekend."

"“He saw the story while he was working on his message,” Butler said. “When he saw the interview, he said, ‘Wow. We have to do something.’ He called Pastor Uth and said, ‘Your people are going to bring in $1 million to help these needy families.’”"

"First Baptist Orlando has had a history of raising large sums of money following national and international disasters. The church raised hundreds of thousands of dollars following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Haiti earthquake of 2010. But even Pastor Uth was skeptical about raising $1 million in just one weekend.
Uth told Wilkinson, “I don’t know if we can raise that much,” adding he would be the first to admit that he happily underestimated the giving spirit of the church."

"Wilkinson laid out the dire need of the people of Central Florida and urged the congregation to contribute whatever they could. The results were individual contributions ranging from one dollar to thousands of dollars and one as a high as $1 million."

For those who may not have seen the 60 Minutes segment, you can view it here

Kudos to this church for not trying to 'figure out' the many ways that homelessness was the fault of the homeless in their community!

Congratulations to this church owning their responsibility for an effective response to a situation once they became aware of its existence!

God Bless this church for not asking, 'What can we do?' and then talking the options to death!

Amen! To the members of the church who didn't think $1 was to small or $1 million was too much!

Hallelujah for the pastor who had the courage to address the need in spite of the fact that the church has operational needs of it's own (every church does!)...

Praise God for a church that decides to pray AND act AND give!

Thanks be to God for EVERY church that realizes that they don't have to make a choice between deploying their financial resources or their human resources - the poverty we see in this country demands that Christians do both!

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