Your financial contributions to The Hub make our work possible. Without you, we simply could not do what we do.
But there is much more to your giving than that. In addition to supplying our needs, your contributions are a living symbol of love and unity to the poor in downtown Shreveport. It reminds of us something in the Bible.
During the first generation of Christianity the most difficult place to be a Christian was where it had all began: in and around Jerusalem. The very earliest Christians were, of course, Jews, and for them believing that Jesus was the Messiah cost them immediately. Social connections, family connections, jobs, homes. Jesus’s promises to the one who “has lost his life for My sake” were more practically relevant to them than anyone (see Matt 10.34-39). Their faith cost them “houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions” (Mark 10:29-30).
For these reasons at least, the original Jewish Christians were very poor.
The apostle Paul, running around the wider world spreading the gospel to Gentiles, remembered them (Gal 2:10). Even though his ministry took place outside of Jerusalem and Judea, he made it his aim to take up a collection from his Gentile churches as a gift to take back to Jerusalem. He mentions one such collection in Romans 15:25ff and 2 Corinthians 8-9. The practical purpose of the collection, obviously, was to provide financial relief to the poorest and most persecuted community of Christians in the world. But, the symbolic meaning may have been even more important.
As you know, Jews habitually kept themselves separate from Gentiles. And even after some Jews converted to Christianity, it was still difficult for them to imagine fellowshipping with Gentile believers. Many criticized Paul’s mission and even questioned his apostleship. But Paul was convinced that, in Jesus, God had “broken down the barrier” between Jew and Gentile, “making the two groups one…establishing peace,” intending to “reconcile them both into one body..through the cross” (Eph 2.14-16). The collection was Paul’s way of saying to Jewish Christians: “The Gentile churches love you, are thankful for you and want to be in fellowship with you.”
In our view, your gifts to The Hub function in a similar way. Your gifts do more than just supply the physical needs of the poorest in Shreveport. Your gifts say, “we love you and want to be in fellowship with you.”
The Hub is convinced that God does not want different churches for different kinds of people. This was Paul’s conviction, and it is ours. We minister in order to erase a horrible assumption that exists among the most destitute in Shreveport. Just this weekend, one of our street friends asked if he could come sing in the choir at my church. He followed this request by asking me to make sure that no one in the choir told him to get out. How heartbreaking. Impoverished Christians in downtown Shreveport assume they do not belong and our not wanted in our churches.
Your gifts, backed by the unifying message of our gospel, say otherwise. Thank you for giving.