Day 1 of clean-up. Another trip to our local storage unit for “stuff” we’re not moving. My son and my best friend came to help. Loaded up my personal pick-up. And another trip to the local thrift store. As I was unloading our “actually good condition stuff” I noticed something. And then I remembered noticing the same thing. People bringing junk to the thrift store. Clothes that were dirty and obviously worn out. Sofas and chairs that were either ripped, worn out, filthy or all of the above. Lots of broken junk. People either too lazy or too inconsiderate (meaning extremely selfish) to properly dispose of the junk. Now this thrift store has the added expense of disposing of someone else’s junk.
And to those who think, “Well, they’re poor, they won’t mind. They will be thankful to have my junk. I know it’s better than their stuff. After all, I made the effort to bring it over here.” The lesson the Spirit taught me wasn’t about transitions and moving, but about life as a follower of Jesus. And here is the lesson I learned today:
Treat all people with kindness, dignity, honor and respect.
Those whom society has label “The Poor” are no less human than those who consider themselves Middle Class or higher. As humans, they deserve to be treated with the same courtesy and respect shown at social organizations or country clubs. When those who are in poverty, of which nearly all would love to be out of, see the kind of junk dropped off at thrift stores and “mission” centers, it sends out a clear message to the poor. It says, “This is all you are worth–no more or no less.”
Ever since Hurricane Katrina, I have been active in disaster response and relief. Some people clean out their attics and the stuff that didn’t sell in their latest yard sale, pack it up to “help” those poor victims of that disaster. While at Waveland, Mississippi, when bags and boxes of “very-used-clothes” arrived, we added them to the “levee” behind our operation center. I kid you not, one box was full of men’s leisure suits. Give me a break!
In 2011, I was put in charge of a distribution center in the small town of Hackleburg, Alabama where in that small community 18 people died and over 100 were injured. I started sorting and organizing donations and I cannot tell you the disgust of the “used” clothes dropped off before I took over. There were some that had 25 cent yard sale stickers, some that had mold, and some that were dirty–I mean D-I-R-T-Y! These people suffered unimaginable horror and pain from the tornadoes, and now were being dumped on by people thinking they were helping.
Well, I digress to my other Kingdom work, so let me get back on track here. When junk is given to thrift stores and organizations designed to the poor, it is treating the poor as if they were junk. “How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.” This is a quote from Bill Bennot, church planter, leader and author of the book: Unstoppable Kingdom: An Apostolic Leadership Culture And Transformation. Remember that your actions speak louder than your words. If you wouldn’t wear it to go out in public for lunch or supper (that’s ‘dinner’ for those unfortunately not from the South), then don’t give it to the poor. If it’s broke, don’t give it to the poor. If you kids won’t play with it because it’s broke, don’t give it to the poor.
Here is the truth: we are all poor somewhere in our lives. There is some type of poverty in all of us. So let’s start treating the poor like we should be treated, because, somewhere–there is poverty in each of us. Don’t pass on the inferior and pretend you’re acting like Jesus. You’re not. If you want to act like Jesus, get to know them and how they feel. And instead of giving them a handout, offer them a Hand-Up. They need to know their true worth–in God’s eyes. And passing along your junk, isn’t helping them see their true worth.
Well, I guess that’s all for now. Maybe tonight I will sleep beyond 3:50 a.m. So I say, “Goodnight John Boy!”