4 ways to love the poor {day 24 of 31}

Only one more week of this 31 series! That’s nuts! I’m cheating a little today (it’s a stretch to count this as a purging post), but I made a promise to some stinkin’ awesome women, and I intend to keep it.

I could rave about the gals from Impact Church (Lowell, Michigan) for hours, but I’ll try to sum up our weekend in just a few (hundred) sentences. My friend Heidi (a pastor’s wife) and I met when our girlies were little and then spent a year or so at the same church before they moved to Michigan. I spoke at their women’s retreat two years ago, and they invited me back again this year.

The theme for this year’s retreat was “B-U-2-Full.” And as I prepared for the three talks I was going to give, I struggled big-time. I felt God asking me to talk about some hard stuff, but I didn’t want to get booed off the stage, so to speak.

But these women are INCREDIBLE. And they went with it. And they let God speak through me. And they took it to heart. And I fell absolutely in love with them all over again.

Thursday night, I talked about how we all want to be beautiful and some of us have struggled with this our entire lives. I brought a handful of pictures from my elementary/middle school/high school days as proof. I told them I didn’t want to minimize the pain of not feeling beautiful, but I sensed God telling us to get the, “I’m beautiful. I’m valuable. God created me. And loves me. My worth is in him. I am a priceless beauty in his eyes.” out of the way and get to the action steps.

Living out being beautiful. Reaching out to others who need to know even more than we do that they have worth and value, that they’re beautiful. (But we need to recognize our worth before we can convince others of theirs.)

Impact just started a new study on the book of Nehemiah. They’ve been asking this question. “What makes you sick and what are you going to do about it?” Oh my word. Perfect.

I read an excerpt from Jen Hatmaker‘s book, Interrupted, where she talks about missing the point of the gospel for so long. She was focused almost entirely on herself, and doggone it if I wasn’t doing the exact same thing.

Then I shared a quote from Kim Meeder (Fierce Beauty), “Authentic beauty is not based on what we’re wearing or how we look. It flows out of our hearts and is a form of worship of our King. This beauty grows when we open our eyes to the hurting souls around us and ask, ‘What can I do today to show them the love of Jesus?”

I asked them to write two things on a notecard. 1.) a prayer request and 2.) their passion (Passion = a cause, a group of people God has laid on your heart, something wrong in this world that you desperately want to make right.)

I was blown away by their honesty about their sin and pain and the depth of their compassion for others.

Friday morning, I read Matthew 6:6-13 where Jesus says the woman who anointed him with perfume did a “beautiful” thing to him. She was criticized for not giving the money to the poor, and Jesus said “You’ll always have the poor with me, but I won’t always be with you.” Sometimes people like to use that as an excuse for not helping the poor, but Jesus is no longer physically with us. And Matthew 25:31-46 makes it clear that whatever we do to the least of these, we’re doing to Jesus.

We talked about little boys and girls being trafficked in Cambodia for sex. We talked about women in Ethiopia who struggle through childbirth and develop fistula (I’ll be blogging more on this next month–in the meantime, you should absolutely watch A Walk to Beautiful on Netflix.). And it was hard and uncomfortable and there were tears, but I felt God’s pleasure as we opened our eyes and hearts to his suffering children.

Some of the girls were a little irked that I left them with a cliffhanger. “We’ll talk tomorrow about how we can help!” And some of them are going to want to shoot me when they realize that of the 16 things I shared on Saturday morning, I only have time/space to share 4 today. (the other 12 will comprise tomorrow’s post–I promise!!)

16 Ways You Can Help the Poor Right NOW (part 1 of 2):

1. Pray and ask God for wisdom.

James 1:5-7 promises us that if we ask God for wisdom, he’ll give it to us. We’re all in different places, different stages, and it’s so important that we don’t neglect any of our God-given responsibilities to run off and change the world. God will let us know (if we ask him) just what he wants from us and will give us everything we need to accomplish it.

2. Read. Learn.

Here are the resources I promised, but this isn’t an exhaustive list by any stretch.

Some of my favorite books: Radical, Crazy Love, The Hole in our Gospel, Zealous Love, Half the Sky, Half the Church, Consumer Detox, Organized Simplicity, Simple Compassion, Irresistible Revolution, Say Yes to God, Serving with Eyes Wide Open, Jantsen’s Gift, The Hospital by the River. And the one I just started and am LOVING (and can’t wait to finish all this linky-linking so I can read some more of it): Kisses from Katie.

Some favorite blogs: Heather in Haiti, Tara in Haiti, Jen Hatmaker, Shaun Groves (Compassion), Kisses from Katie (Uganda), Asia’s Hope, Yvonne (my friend in Cambodia), Kristen (started a ministry in Kenya), my mom-in-law who’s in Kenya right now.

Some organizations I love: Heartline Haiti, As Our Own, Asia’s Hope, Compassion International, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse. (I’ll link to more as I remember them…)

3. Raise awareness.

Thanks to the internet, there is so much we can do to share our passion with others. God has given you a circle of influence, and no matter how small it is, you can make such a difference just by sharing bits and pieces of your story and what God is doing in your community and around the world. p.s. I’m not super-awesome at Twitter still, but I’d love to be your friend on Facebook.

4. Buy a t-shirt and wear it.

I’m a t-shirt girl anyway, and give me a t-shirt that supports a cause I care deeply about, and I’m a happy, happy camper. Here are some shirts I own: She Has a Name, SOLD: Kids are Not Intended For Commercial Use, Arise Africa, Set the Captives Free, Mercy House Kenya.

If you know of a t-shirt I “need,” let me know. I’m a teensy bit picky though. My body shape + personality means I’ll usually only wear crew neck tees in a uni-sex fit (size small) and the longer and softer the better.

If you made it to the bottom of this post, you deserve a PRIZE. So, I’m giving away THREE books (not sure which ones yet, but I’ll pick from my list above). Leave a comment (about anything at all) and be entered to win.

And I would LOVE it if some of my new Michigan friends chimed in! See you for #5 – #16 tomorrow!

71 thoughts on “4 ways to love the poor {day 24 of 31}

  1. Positively Alene

    I am just getting to the end of reading the 31 Days. I was thrown off my game when my daddy passed away on the 24th day. BUT girl — I’m so thankful I came back to catch up. YOU ARE SPEAKING my language here.

    I love that because I was in need of a pick-me-up.

    Another great book is The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I’m so sorry about your daddy, friend. That breaks my heart. I actually never finished the series, because my husband had a heart attack on the 29th. Praise God for sparing his life. I’ll check out that book for sure! Thanks!

  2. Pingback: Marla Taviano » human trafficking & loving the poor

  3. Brooke

    Dear Church Library Director:

    Please get all of these books so I won’t have to buy them all.

    Love, Girl Who’s Still Technically a Member of Your Church But Attends Elsewhere

  4. jess

    i’m behind on my blog-readin’ but i still wanna win. so i’m a day late & if i had a dollar, i’d be a dollar short, too. 🙂 BUT if it’s not too late count this as an entry. 🙂

    i’m loving these posts, just so you know. 🙂

  5. Pingback: Marla Taviano » 12 more ways to love the poor {day 25 of 31}

  6. Sharon Kruk

    Longtime lurker, coming out to say thanks so much for this list. I’ve read Interrupted and a few other things that have made me realize that God is whispering to me to take some action…I just haven’t figured out what that action is right now. I’m looking forward to spending some time delving into your list and especially looking forward to Part 2. Thanks!

  7. Leigh

    I haven’t commented often during this series but I wanted to say how much I love seeing your heart shine through with each and every post, Marla. Whether you’re speaking, preparing for Cambodia, or getting rid of “stuff”, your love of Christ is readily apparent.

  8. Sarah

    I had to laugh becaue I have similar picky t-shirt issues 🙂 I am really looking forward to the rest of the items on your list. I think #1 is the most important and also the hardest. At this season in my life I sometimes struggle with the proper response when my heart is gripped and I am convicted for my brothers & sisters. I have a family to take care of, that is my primary vocation. Yet there is so mIch suffering and just giving money doesn’t feel like enough. I guess this is when we simply must pray and trust the Lord?

    1. Marla Taviano

      Amen! Just tonight I was sitting on my bed reading Kisses from Katie and feeling so restless. “What can I DO???” I can start by praying. God will be faithful to show me the next steps.

  9. Rebecca

    I’m so excited about these posts! I have got to get my hands on Jen Hatmaker’s book! I’ve tried two bookstores to no avail, but now I’ll look online. Something in me wanted to pull it right off the shelf and start devouring it…but it isn’t meant to be done that way I suppose! haha


    1. Marla Taviano

      Some books you just have to buy. Interrupted was one of those for me. And I could DIE waiting for her new one. She’s sending me a copy when it releases, but I’ll be in Cambodia!!! ARGH!!

  10. kim stewart

    A book that I recommend is “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” by RonSider. It was required reading in college and has had such an impact on my life. I think it’s in its 5th printing.

  11. beth lehman

    you always give me things to think about – and you have steered my thoughts in new directions. i have read both shane claiborne and jen hatmaker but would love to read (and will be wishlisting) several other titles you mentioned. thanks for provoking us to action!

  12. Melanie

    Hi Marla, Melanie from Ohio!

    The past few weeks I’ve been dealing more with my brother and his wife who have been struggling. In the past I’ve spent a lot of time judging them. I have babysat, cleaned, done dishes, bought groceries, and washed clothes. And I’ll have to be honest, I’m frustrated. Sometimes this giving back to the poor is hard and I’m tired! So what’s the line between helping and remembering your own family? Just a thought. I think that’s why I haven’t committed time to helping the poor in the past. It’s easier to have an automatic charge on my credit card to help a sponsored child, than to give up my semi-peaceful Saturday taking care of 3 extra children. This Christian life really is about denying yourself everyday. And sometimes I wonder, does God even notice…maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that. I feel like giving back and loving like Christ has become less Hallmark card-ie and more like real-life, this stinks-ie. 🙂

    1. Marla Taviano

      I’ve been praying for you, Melanie, and I’ll keep going. My heart aches for all that you’re going through. I don’t have any answers for you, but I think you’re amazing, and I’m so proud of you. God DOES notice what you’re doing–I can promise you that!! Don’t give up! I’ll ask him to give you extra strength for all the above-and-beyond you do. Hugs!!

  13. Marcie

    Completely enjoyed your inspiring talks all weekend at our retreat. I so want to be very sensitive to God’s leading and too often let a lot of things crowd out hearing Him clearly. Thank you for sharing your heart and your passion and for being refreshingly honest. I was inspired and convicted and am prayerfully considering what God has for my family and I as we move forward.

    I love that your blog is a great resource for all sorts of things to be involved with.

    Also, thanks for the laughs playing games. You are so fun to be around.

    1. Marla Taviano

      YOU are so fun to be around, Marcie! And such a gracious Up and Down the River loser. 😉

      Thank you for your kind words. I really, really enjoyed getting to know you this weekend!!

      Can’t wait to hear what awesome boy name you choose!

  14. Pam

    Thank you again so much for the great talks this past weekend.

    My husband I have read Crazy Love for a group study, and we are also rarely-buy-books people that go to the library to find them most of the time. We decided to find Radical a couple of weeks ago…apparently there are 17 copies on hold (or it’s been “held” for 17 people). I can’t imagine our library having that many copies…

    Thanks for putting all the resources into one place for us to grab!

  15. Rachelle

    Thanks for this post. Heard an amazing sermon on praying for wisdom yesterday. Apparently I need some more knee time.

    Love these suggestions. We can all do something.

  16. Anonymous

    I love the t-shirt idea. I hadn’t thought of that. And I must admit, I too scared to check out your websites b/c I’m not sure I want to be convicted to go to another country.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Thanks for being honest. You’re absolutely not alone in this. Just so you know though–if God wants you to go somewhere, he can move in your heart with or without you clicking on websites. 😉

  17. Amy P


    I started reading your blog at the beginning of the 31 day series. I just have to say that it has become one of my favorites. Thank you! I’m going to check out some of the t-shirt sites now. I have to say that I already have a few shirts with an adoption theme (we have 2 boys adopted from China and one more coming home soon), but I rarely wear them because I don’t want people to think that I wear them to bring praise to myself, you know? It’s really about the millions of children who still need homes. Maybe I just need to be bold for them!

    1. Marla Taviano

      Thanks so much, Amy. I get what you’re saying about the t-shirts. I feel that way too sometimes, and I haven’t even adopted any kiddos. I’d ask God for discernment–is this going to come across as pride or passion? Sometimes there’s nothing we can do about the people who mistake our passion for pride.

  18. ~Suzanne

    Marla…you rock:) It was such a joy to hear your heart this weekend and to know that others are living out their God-given passions. Thank you so much for putting these resources in one spot for us – it allowed my type-A-note-taking-self to relax and listen as God spoke to my heart.

    Know that you and your family are being prayed for as you journey toward Cambodia…I can’t wait to hear all about it:)

  19. Betsy

    Gosh, there are SO many great things that people are doing! I wish the Church could just pick one thing at a time and knock it out! One week-clean water, the next-child slavery, etc. I just want it all to end and for everybody to pool resources! I cannot wait to read Kisses From Katie! I’ve been waiting for that one!

      1. Betsy

        If we could just treat each issue like celebrities treat natural disasters (NOT that those things aren’t truly terrible in their own right!) and have those emergency telethons for each thing! I mean if every Christian alone gave even a small amount for one thing we could knock it out!! No one starving. No one thirsty. Every one immunized. Idealistic, maybe!! But awesome!

  20. Shannon Wheeler

    Oh my goodness, I’ve read the first four books you’ve mentioned, and they are SO powerful. I just finished “Passport Through Darkness” about work fighting human trafficking and also about the heart-wrenching work being done to care for orphans in Sudan.

    I’ll have to check out some of the tshirts! I volunteer with Project HOPEFUL http://www.projecthopeful.org and they have some amazing tshirts as well.

    The tshirt I wear that always makes me smile is my “My Husband Rocks” tshirt (he smiles when I wear it, too).

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s list!

        1. Amy P

          Thanks! They are from Union28 and they are even having a big clearance sale until the end of the month! All clearance is an extra 50% off with the code listed on their website.

  21. Sharon W

    Hey Marla,

    I love, love, love my “She Has a Name” t-shirt, but have a hard time wearing it in public. I never know how to give a quick answer when people ask what it’s about. You know, like to the cashier when I’m checking out, or the guy at the seafood counter. Do you tell the story of how the name originated or just say it’s about human trafficking??? To be honest, including the words “pimp/john/prostitute” in a conversation with a stranger is not my cup of tea. But, I know the issue needs to be talked about.

    I just found out about a local organization helping those involved in the industry get out, and when I mentioned it to my husband, he couldn’t believe that kind of thing was going on in our city. He finally decided that it must be an instance where people are coming here from other places to get help. I’m no expert, but I don’t think that is the case. Just more evidence that there needs to be more awareness that this is happening in our own back yards.

    1. Marla Taviano

      I’ve had the same experience with my shirt! Sometimes I don’t feel it’s appropriate to say much, other times I’ll say it’s an organization that fights human trafficking. Maybe I’ll start praying for wisdom and discernment every time I put it on.

      And human trafficking is absolutely going on here. One example: young girls from bad home situations (or who are just rebellious) hang out at malls with a backpack looking like they’re running away, someone will approach them and say they can give them work doing a photo shoot or something. They drug them, force them to turn a trick, then threaten that they’ll turn them in if they try to escape. Just one example, but it’s absolutely happening here. And to American girls.

  22. Tonya Foster

    Hi Marla, I was at the Impact Women’s Retreat. I’ll be completely honest with you. I was excepting another women’s retreat where we talk about women’s issues and all our problems, and I super excited when I got there to hear your heart and your obedience. It was difficult to hear some of the things you talked about, but I’m glad I was able to hear it. I’m so thankful for your applicable suggestions and am praying for directions on where to start. I own my own salon out of my home. I feel like I have so much opportunity to share awareness. I also would like to do something with my kids. We are praying for ideas for crafts to make or services to donate to raise money. It was alittle difficult trying to explain to my 6 and 7 year old boys what my passion is without sharing too many graphic details. So if you have any ideas on that…knowing that you are taking your 3 girls with you to Cambodia, that would be helpful. Just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your heart and passion and was blessed to have gotten to hear it. Praying for you and your family and your trip to Cambodia.

    1. Marla Taviano

      Thank you SO much, Tonya! It was such an honor and a privilege to share with all you. You blessed me so much.

      I would pray and ask God for wisdom about how much to share with your boys. You could tell them that there are people who do evil things that hurt people and that they are forced to work as slaves and do things that are hard and often painful. I’ll pray for wisdom for you too!

  23. Heidi Chinn

    Thank you for taking us in a different direction than expected this weekend. It comforted my heart to feel that there are now 90 more people more aware of the ways Satan has made himself known in our world.

    Last week I learned that there are over 300,000 people trafficked in the U.S. alone, 17,000 of them from overseas, the remainder are U.S. born. I appreciate that you pointed out how your trip to Cambodia changed you, I am one however, that sees the same things in my back yard…quite literally. The children downstairs are taken care of but live in a pretty violent home situation.

    For others who are in need of a place to start, Urban Family Ministries, located on the South East side of Grand Rapids (20 minutes from Impact) is always in need of volunteers, prayer partners, donors (however big or small), and above all God’s people!

    We are gearing up for our first-ever visibility event to raise awareness of what we do. We work to combat the power of the streets by offering relationship based programming to 250+ kids and their families.

    Celebrate! is an event for the whole family – a night of improv comedy (321 Improv), testimonies, and dessert.
    Tickets are $10 (single) or $15 (pair)
    When: November 4th, 7:00pm
    Where: Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church on Eastern Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI
    Who: Urban Family Ministries

    E-mail me at hchinn@urbanfamilyministries.org for more information!!

    1. Marla Taviano

      I love what you’re doing, Heidi. And I loved hearing you share at the retreat. Your heart for these kiddos just shines through, and I’m so glad they have you. Thank you for using your life to make such a difference in Grand Rapids. Hugs to you, friend!

  24. cyndee

    Marla, I am trying so hard to care more about suffering in the world. I feel overwhelmed with not only the suffering, but my own self-centeredness and ‘world focus.’ Some days your post inspire me and other days I just feel more beaten down. (Like reading James or “The Hole in Our Gospel!”) I am asking for your prayers for my family and me as we travel to Ethiopia TOMORROW to meet my new grandson. Thanks for being here! 🙂

  25. Danielle

    An organization (which has stinkin awesome t-shirts) that I love is Forgotten Foundation.


    They are working to provide gospel, work, relief, education, medicine, and love to Karen refugees in Thailand. Forgotten was started by a couple 20 something guys I know who love Jesus and want to do something for the Kingdom. I love my Forgotten guys, and as a result love the Karen people. AJ and his wife Katrina were just in Thailand loving on the folks at Forgotten Land, we’re praying for health for them as they return since Malaria and Dengue Fever were major concerns while they were there.

  26. Bethany Peters

    And if you don’t wear t-shirts buy jewelry from Amazima Ministries (Katie’s organization)–necklaces and bracelets.

    I’m loving your list so far! I love you Marsy!

  27. valerie (in TX)

    Our church had a ladies’ conference this weekend, and I IMMEDIATELY thought of you when I saw one of the booths was an organization called RescueHer (rescueher.org), which works to fight human trafficking. And they have t-shirts! 🙂

    I’m going back to Africa next summer (Ethiopia and Uganda), and one of the places we’ll be ministering is the Fistula Hospital, which was featured in “A Walk to Beautiful”. I’m excited and truthfully a little nervous. Anticipating what God will do while we’re there. Can’t wait to be back in Africa!

    1. Marla Taviano

      I’ll check out RescueHer–thanks, Valerie! And WOW to the Fistula Hospital. I would looooove to go there someday and just hug those women and tell them how beautiful they are! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!! (do you have a blog?)

  28. Ruth Chowdhury

    Awesome post; can’t wait for tomorrow’s. I would have to add a book to the list that has inspired me, personally, to get back to the basics and give more. Weird, by Craig Groeschel. Awesome book with such practical advice. Thanks for all the info & links! (that had to have taken forever!)

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