Jim McDonald

Sometimes I hear criticism that most letters from the Philippines are requests for help. I am sure that is true. Most Filipinos regard us here in the States as rich and frankly, compared with them, we are. One trip to their is-lands ought to melt even the most hardened of hearts as one drives from the capital into the remote provincial villages and views their humble homes, sees their daily fare of food, meager supply of clothes, poor furniture and their scrounging to acquire even 32 cents to mail a letter to the U.S. We are rich, and to Filipino brethren whose lives are so devoid of hope we are their only link with hope. The following excerpt is taken from the letter of a Filipino friend, brother and preacher. "Sometimes I have the feeling to be ashamed of begging help but our situation force me to do. This is the only way to survive, to be a beggar."

I am sure the blind beggar of John 9 did not present a very pretty sight to Jesus' disciples when they came in contact with him. They wondered whether his blindness was the result of his sin or that of his parents. Likely the lame man of Acts 3 was not a wholesome picture when Peter and John went into the temple at the hour of prayer. It is possible that sight of him "turned some folks off' just as the wounded and bruised Jew of Luke 10 "turned off " the priest and Levite. The beggar Lazarus was a miser-able, wretched specimen of humanity, laid as he were at the gates of the rich man  full of sores, which the dogs licked. But, he was God's child (Luke 16).

The plight of our brethren in the Philippines (and Africa, Nigeria and India) is not in most instances a result of their own making. Droughts, floods, and economy are factors beyond their control. Most of these do not fit into the category of "working not at all, but are busybodies." Brethren in these areas are caught in a web of circumstances beyond their control and so the plea for help  begging, if we want to call it that. There may be some unworthy souls among them whose status in life is all together that of their own making who just might be helped by some unsuspecting U.S. brother. So what? Will his hypocrisy make the sincerely given gift a sin? Shall we help none lest we help some who do not deserve our help?

We cannot feed the world. Can we help all our impoverished brethren? Can we help some of them? Should we even try? Somehow I am under the impression our Savior said, "To do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." "As we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, especially toward those of the household of faith." "In love of the brethren be ye tenderly affectioned one toward an-other, in honor preferring one another." "And let our people learn to maintain good work for necessary uses." "Pure religion and undefiled before our God and the Father is this to visit the fatherless and the widows in their afflictions and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." "What doth it profit my brother, if a man say he hath faith and hath not works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food and one of you say unto him, go in peace, be ye warmed and filled and yet ye give them not the things needful for the body, what doth it profit?" "My little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue, but in deed and in truth" (Heb. 13:16; Gal. 6:10; Rom. 12:10; Titus 3:14; James 1:26f; 2:14-16; 1 John 3:18).

Be grateful you live in the land of plenty you do. Be grateful things are as well with you as they are. And never forget that our Lord said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Your state could be the same as theirs. Do they like to "beg"? I think not. But to whom else may they turn? Helping our unfortunate brethren brings a far greater blessing to us than them. Dare we forget that Jesus said "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye did it unto me"? (Matt. 25:40).

Guardian of Truth XL: No. 14, p. 11
July 18, 1996