Loving the Poor and Needy in Word and Deed
“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”—Deuteronomy 15:11 (ESV)
Throughout Scripture, God shows Himself to be a God who takes notice of the poor and needy, and cares for them materially and spiritually. It is one of the ways in which He demonstrates His love and compassion. As God’s children, Christians are called thus to imitate Him, loving not only in word and talk but also in deed and truth (1 John 3:18). This is the motivation for holistic missions, which are an integral part of the expanding global Bible Mission.
Holistic missions focus primarily on humanitarian efforts and disaster relief, seeking to meet the immediate needs of those disadvantaged by persecution and natural disasters. These acts of care and love communicate to the poor and needy that they are not forgotten, and that God’s love and message of salvation in Christ are also theirs to embrace.
Since the early 2000s, the Bible Society, in collaboration with regional Bible Societies and churches, began engaging in holistic missions to serve overseas communities in need. This included raising awareness of and undertaking fundraising activities for countries hit by major disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, and the recent floods in South Asia.
From 2014 onwards, formal mission trips have also been organised to various affected areas to serve the needy there. Through these efforts, the Bible Society and participating churches gain opportunities to be God’s channels of blessing to these communities, both in the caring for their material and spiritual well-being, as well as in the restoration of their way of life.
Tacloban, the Philippines (2014)
- Ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan, the worst tropical cyclone recorded in history
- Distributed Scriptures, food toiletries and furniture to the locals, and helped in church rebuilding efforts
- Thousands suffered displacement, persecution and hardship from ISIS attacks
- Visited refugees in several areas and provided relief through the distribution of Scriptures and relief packs
- Locals subjected to regular floods from yearly monsoons
- Distributed Scriptures and necessities such as mosquito nets and family kits to aid the rebuilding of the locals’ homes and lives
- Locals affected by frequent earthquakes and floods
- Distributed Scriptures and daily necessities, and provided zinc sheets to aid in house rebuilding projects
There are still many needy communities in the world that need to know and grow in God’s love, which mean more areas of service for us to explore. Egypt is one example. One of the oldest countries in the world, Egypt has a rich history and culture that dates back to Biblical times. At the same time, children and youth, many of whom are poor, make up a large percentage of the total population (33%). Its Christian population is also among the most persecuted in the world today.
In August 2017, the Bible Society sent a team to Egypt to further understand and support the mission works there. They joined up with staff from the Bible Society of Egypt, who have been organising rallies and special programmes to reach out to the children and youth. One of the team members, Joan Cher, recounts:
We are truly privileged not only to partner with our Egyptian brothers and sisters in serving the needy in Egypt, but also to share in their joy of seeing them knowing and growing in the love of God and His Word. We are also committed to support these ongoing outreach works in Egypt, such as the upcoming Christmas distribution of Scripture materials, hygiene items and sweets to the children.
British evangelist Leonard Ravenhill once remarked,
We are ever thankful for our faithful supporters and volunteers, whose contributions enable us to continue to demonstrate God’s love through these missions with local and overseas brothers and sisters in Christ. We also covet your continued prayers and support, so that more will be able to taste and see that the Lord is good, and be brought into His fold.