Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Being a Good Samaritan

I'm still trying to figure out how I should feel about being involved in building a Habitat for Humanity for a Muslim immigrant family. It's not about them being Muslim. Nor am I concerned that they are immigrants.It's a matter of priority to me. Should we be building houses for a family who has unity and faith and is just looking for a better place to live when we might instead use it as a tool to help break the cycle of poverty for an American family?

If we make a real difference in this cycle of poverty, we can impact deep problems such as unwed mothers, drug selling, violence, and school dropout rates. The objective of is not to help the poor folks stay poor more comfortably, it is to aid and mentor the children by helping them latch onto a future in which they have an opportunity to be fulfilled, contributing members of society.

We studied the parable of the Good Samaritan in Sunday School last Sunday. The pious Jews all walked by their fallen brother. It took the Samaritan -- someone from a culture in conflict with the Jews -- to stop and give aid -- and that aid was extraordinary. Jesus told this parable in response to a lawyer's question about how to achieve eternal life. Jesus' first answer was a question back to the lawyer: "what does the Law say?" The lawyer correctly answered that we must love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus then told him "Go and do likewise."

So I'm now of the mind that helping is helping, and it doesn't matter whether it is an immigrant family, or a family which is the decendents of slaves brought here 200 years ago.

Now I think my question is whether allocating $thousands to one Habitat house for one family is a better use of money than using that same amount of money to teach and mentor many children.

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