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February 20, 2011


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I grew up in a lower-middle-class neighborhood, FMF. We didn't think of ourselves as poor, but we surely weren't rich. If you read my stuff, you will see constant references to "middle-class workers." Pretty much everything I do is driven by concern over how the life opportunities of the people I grew up with have been limited by their lack of wealth (not their lack of intelligence or work ethic).

It's important to help those who are truly poor as well. But I do not feel that I am able to do as much for the truly poor because my personal experience has not prepared me for effective work in that area. Perhaps I will develop more confidence to take something along those lines on in days to come.

I love your Sunday blogs. I look forward to them.


We sponsor two children in a Christian orphanage in Haiti, including sending them birthday and Christmas gifts.

We also give to a Ugandan orphanage and program that puts African widows in business, which our church is connected with.

We donate to to
help keep people from falling into poverty. Sometimes,people just need a little help with an unexpected bill or
expense and you can choose which request you would like your donation
to go to.

My life has been blessed with a solid education, resulting in a very successful career. I own over $1M in company stock, plus I have a very broad and well-invested portfolio in other companies and investment firms. I am barely over 40, yet I could easily retire today. My mortgage is paid for, as are all three of my vehicles, including a Ferrari. I have zero debt. Although my child is only 5, her college education is already paid for, should she choose to pursue it. Life is great and gets greater every year.

I have no respect whatsoever for the poor. None. They don't deserve a single dime of my money and I give them nothing. We all are born equal, entering this world with nothing. We all have choices in life, we all have chances to improve who we are, what we do, and our lasting legacy. Remember, we are all born equal, but we are not all equal.

The poor are poor because they made the wrong choices in life. In almost every case, they did not pursue an education which, had they done so, would have opened many doors in their life. Life is all about choices. Make the right ones and be successful. Make the wrong ones, or none at all, and be poor. It's your choice.

I will never forget what my favorite college professor told our class each morning: Having an education does not guarantee success in life, but not having one almost always guarantees failure. Think about this the next time you give up YOUR hard earned money to a low-life, undeserving, poor person.


I do not believe that we are born equal-we are born with differences in family wealth, differences in our genetics, differences in nationality, differences in personality. These differences deeply shape how successful we are in the modern global economy.

To focus on your key point of education-the educational systems in the inner cities in this country is a very different experience than the educational system in suburbs, unsafe places where children are not helped to develop the skills that would allow them to flourish in college. Then there is money-your daughter can go to college at no cost to herself, while many children who grow up in poor environments cannot pay for a college education, and are expected to work by their families rather than focus on schooling. Finally, there is simple mental health. A huge percentage of homeless people in our society are people with mental illnesses-people who are poor because they cannot function in our society, not for any 'choices' they have made.

I do not deny that life is about choices-many people can in fact make better choices, and should make better choices, and there are poor people who are in the situation they are in because they foolishly fell into addiction or had children to young. But most of these choices are made by children-people under the age of 18 who get pregnant, or start taking drugs, or get arrested, and then get trapped in poverty and cycles of bad decisions and broken relationships, which do reverberate for the rest of their lives, and often for generations. A 16 year old who makes a mistake does not deserve to be punished for the rest of her life by poverty.

Further, your argument is only meaningful in the Western context. The vast majority of poor people in our world are not in this country, and they are poor because survival is tenuous, education expensive, governments are corrupt, and they aren't lucky enough, either to be born in the top few percent in their country, or lucky enough to be born in ours. For most poor people in this world, there is no pattern of choices likely to bring them out of poverty, and only the most lucky or exceptional escape. Most poor people have been trapped from birth in cycles of poverty.

D, you are not deserving of your wealth. No one is deserving of what they have. You are lucky-deeply lucky, in an almost infinite number of ways. You have a vast surplus of resources, that you can use for the betterment of creation, or for the purpose of selfish gain. These resources are a gift of God(in my theology), but certainly something you have because of a combination of your hard work, AND your good fortune. I honor your hard work, but I invite you to remember your good fortune, and that different luck would have left you with a different destiny.

Here's a website for a group doing good work in Africa, feeding starving children Consider whether these children deserve to die because they are poor, or whether they deserve your help, your love, and your respect.

Well said!

We give to a young gal through Compassion International. It is a modest sum each month. But we too question, is this enough? Is there more that we could be doing?

I'm having a hard time believing that the comment from "D" is a real comment and not a troll attempt to get a flame-war going. Unless "D" is just a sociopath...

Regardless of D's intentions or the truthfulness of the comment, what a great response from StLpastor. I, too, enjoy these Sunday posts.

D sounds like he is rich in some ways but poor in compassion. I know way to many people who have been dealt a raw deal due to outside forces beyond there control. Not to say that there are ones who where there the ones who cause there problems due to greed or other things.

D sounds like my brother who is a doctor. He thought he could not fail. He had this plan that sounded good, retiring at 54 from being a doctor opening up an art galley in order to retire. After a year he needed to close shop and go back to doctoring in order to get himself out of debt.

D I hope you never have to eat your words.

What a sad outlook you have of and for your fellow human beings. You get a D in life D. Good luck at the end of yours.

I cannot imagine that post by "D" is for real?

Hey Keith, re: Compassion Int'l I just gave for them for the first time last month. By chance I happened to turn on a station that was running a campaign for their water purifiers for Haiti (which work forever) and every $65 donation bought one. I bought a few because I like things like that - it's not a band-aid, but rather a long-lasting real way to transform lives. Clean water prevents disease and enables a person to work... cheapest investment we could be making in the developing world in my opinion.

This is an excellent post, FMF. Thanks for sharing. With so much talk about how we can all make and save for ourselves, it's good to recognize that there are people that are in need. Even better to take action on it.

My giving to those in need, having said that, is unstructured. I give to a few charities, so those technically aren't for people that are "poor" financially - but they're poor healthwise. In terms of financially needy people, I do occasionally give to homeless people I see downtown (Chicago). If it's cold out, I feel the need to help. If they're old, it bothers me to see them it that shape. I don't give much, but I give something. Might actually be better to give food to people such as this.

I might need to look at other more structured ways to give.

I tend to support Mercy Corps because I trust them to spend money on programs that actually help the world's poor.

Many programs do not help, and can actually cause harm. Just throwing money at a problem can motivate the recipients of that money to create more of the problem. Some third world orphanages, for instance, don't have many actual orphans in them:

That weblog is a good source of information for people who want to give in a way that is more likely to help the needy, and is well worth a read if you're giving significant money to charity, especially in undeveloped or developing countries where oversight by local authorities may be lax/nonexistant.

My talents as an aerospace engineer aren't too useful to the poor, but I did spend a month last November teaching salsa dancing at a nearby Boys and Girls club, which is another way to help the poor, so long as you're meeting a need they actually have.

I think it is great to give to organizations and ministries that help the poor. But, I think it is also important that we take the time to get to know and have a relationship with people in need.

So, maybe that means you go down to the homeless shelter or soup kitchen and serve from time to time, or maybe create your own way to give and serve.

Just before Christmas, our family bought a bunch of socks, water bottles, and snacks, and filled some large zip-lok bags with those items. Then we went out looking for people who are "camping out" under bridges and in alleys in our core city area.

We didn't have a lot to give, but we got to meet some people, learn their names, and give them a little something to help them.

What D doesn't know is that there are plenty of people who are poor and/or homeless due to mental illness. There's always someone who says, "They choose to live that way." But I can say that I've met many whose "chooser" is broken because their mind isn't working right. Sadly, some of these people have fallen through the cracks and are not on anyone's radar.

As a Christian, I've been amazed at how giving to the poor is a two-way transaction, if we take the time to get to know them. When we give, we become "Jesus" to them, by helping to meet a need. And they are "Jesus" to us, because when we give to help people in need we are really giving to Him.

In response to MattJ and others who think their talents or skills may not directly be of use to the poor...I'd like to encourage you to check out a growing movement called "Business as Mission." It's all about helping business people use their business know-how to help change lives through enterprise development, instead of just charity.

Partners Worldwide ( an awesome group that is active in helping to make these connections. Their director wrote a great book called "My Business, My Mission." Also, The Acton Institute's Poverty Cure program ( is developing enterprise-based solutions to poverty.

Rich A:

Response to me? Really?

(1) I'm an aerospace engineer, not a businessman. I don't have business know-how - I know how to make a launch vehicle reach an orbit target.

(2) My entire final paragraph was about how I have another talent that is valuable to the less fortunate in my community, and I've found a way to help them with it.


Forgive me if you thought I was "dissing" your service as a dance teacher. That's not the case at all.

What I was trying to say is that there might be ways you can use your work skills to help the poor - here at home or around the world - in ways that might not be readily apparent to you at this time.

You may be right - maybe you can't use your "rocket science" to help the poor. But maybe you can use your other math, science, planning, analyzing and organizing know-how to make a difference in the lives of others. Perhaps you can be a math tutor or mentor for a kid and let your passion for space and exploration rub off onto them.

If dancing is a passion area for you and you want to use that to enrich the lives of others, I'm all for it!!! I'm sure you are a blessing to those kids!!!

I just want to bring attention to the growing movement of people who are discovering new ways to connect the everyday skills they use for work and business, as obscure as it may seem to them, to help people in need, and are finding fulfillment and satisfaction in their lives in doing that.

Rich A:

No problem. It's not that I thought you were disrepecting what I do for the poor in my community, it's that you singled me out as someone who "think their talents or skills may not directly be of use to the poor" when clearly that isn't the case.

As for using my engineering skillsets to help the poor - I'm extremely skeptical that what I could do in my spare time would be more valuable than simply working and donating more money to an effective & trusted charity.

Related & Worth Reading:


Thanks for sharing the article from Good Intents. After reading it, I think we are on the same wave length.

My friends at and have heard from hundreds of foreign nationals who say "please stop sending aid" and instead partner with us to expand our business know-how so we can employ our own people.

After the Haiti Earthquake, while everyone else in the world was committing "aid" that has barely gone where it is needed, Partners Worldwide came alongside small businesspeople in Haiti to help them re-open their businesses, so they could put their own people back to work.

Understandably, people were afraid to go back to work inside buildings because of fear they may collapse. So Partners Worldwide was able to quickly find several US structural engineers who donated their time to go and inspect dozens of facilities in Haiti to verify that they were safe, or to suggest improvements to make them safe.

Previously, these engineers had no idea that they could use their work skills to make a difference in this way, until someone linked their skill with the need.

I don't know all the ways a rocket scientist could use his or her engineering skills directly to help the poor (the only one I've known just retired last year as our Congressman), but it might be fun to find out! ;)

Thanks for the discussion, and the opportunity for me to clarify that I meant it to be an encouragement, not a singling out. :)

I presume Pastor Trotter is effectively helping the poor.
More power to him. I can't help a red flag going up in my mind
when I see the word 'Ministries'. In too many instances it
means the wonderful Aussie term 'God-botherer'. For those who
can't find an honest church (and they ARE out there, despite my
cynicism) consider tithing to Unicef, or the Humane Society,
or Doctors Without Borders, and those three are just a start.
Kudos to those previous posters who found other good causes...AND
to FMF, who contributes more than I do, probably....
(Inspired, I'm sending a check to Unicef right now)

Harm --

Good for you! However, you know that the "UN" in Unicef stands for "United Nations", right? Talk about an organization to be skeptical of! ;-)

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