Editor's Comment

Go beyond spiritual help

THAT Caritas Zambia has put up a budget of a US$9.4 million to help deal with the hunger situation in the county is commendable and a true reflection of what religion should be.
Caritas Zambia, which is an institution under the Catholic Church, works on issues of social injustice, governance and development. Its vision is to see a Zambian society in which every person has attained integral human development.
It is commendable and encouraging that the Church, and the Catholic in particular, is living up to its biblical mandate of helping the poor in society.
The Bible in James 1:27-2:13 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
In Mathew 25:35-40, Jesus puts himself in the place of the vulnerable in society by saying any help rendered to such is to him. Similarly, help denied to the poor is denial of one’s faith in the Lord Jesus.
Through these scriptures, Jesus puts emphasis on the need for those who proclaim His faith to look after the vulnerable in society.
It, therefore, goes to say the Church as custodians of the Christian faith is expected to live according, the biblical principles, and giving a helping hand to the poor is one of them.
The Church, as the light and salt of this world, is expected to share the love of God, especially with the vulnerable in society.
It is therefore heartening that the Catholic Church has demonstrated true Christianity by responding and promptly so to the hunger situation in the country.
It is a known fact that some parts of the country are hunger-stricken following the drought that characterised the immediate past rainy season.
Government has been distributing relief food to these hunger-prone areas to prevent starvation. Indications are that food reserves are enough to meet the demands for relief food, but there is no harm in getting help from partners such as the Church.
It is, therefore, heartening that Government has a partner in the Catholic Church to help prevent starvation in the country.
It is important, too, that the quest to help the needy should be in partnership and well-coordinated. There is a risk of denying some people and giving more to others if the Church or the private sector work in isolation of Government’s well-structured programme.
Through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), Government quickly identifies needy people and just as quickly delivers the needs.
There is no deed to have a parallel programme or one that does not take into consideration Government’s action plan.
That said though, the Church should keep tabs on the needs of the various communities in which it has a presence.
As rightly pointed out by Caritas president Evans Chinyemba, the Church should be prophetic and demonstrate relevance in the different times as it spreads the gospel.
The Church will lose its relevance if it fails to reach out to the physical needs of the people.
Moreover, love, which is one of the cornerstone values of the Christian faith, is demonstrated through acts of giving.
The Church cannot, therefore, claim to love and yet fail to help the vulnerable in society.
The gesture by the Catholic Church should, therefore, be emulated by all churches.
It is saddening though that in some churches, instead of helping the poor, some men of God are the ones taking advantage of the congregants from whom even the little they have is taken away.
Some churches have restricted themselves to just giving spiritual help neglecting the physical aspect.
However, the Church must understand that it is expected to give both spiritual and physical help to the needy in society.
Actually, traditional churches like Catholic, United Church of Zambia, Seventh Day Adventists and the Reformed Church in Zambia have proved this by providing education and health services besides spiritual help.
The Church as a body that is interested in dignity and welfare of people, is better placed to partner with Government to uplift the plight of the poor.
The Church, therefore, needs to be alert by understanding the times and responding according to the prevailing situation as demonstrated by the Catholic Church.
Helping the poor is actually a more impactful way of preaching the gospel.

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