I have worked in Legal Aid offices for some 15 years. I can tell you that many poor are not the kind of people most of us associate with. They tend to be undereducated, unorganized, and often buried under their financial burdens. Many come from longer generations of poverty. Many are weak and do not present or represent themselves well. Some have developed aggressive strategies to deal with people. All-in-all, they need our help.
And, we need theirs.
We get people who call us and, whether or not we can help, they will end the conversation with “Have a blessed day.” They may be choosing between a roof or a meal, between needed medications and feeding their children. They may be, or feel that they are, cast out, abandoned by society, used by politicians, landlords, etc. Yet, time and again I am told “Have a blessed day.” I remember one caller to whom I had to give bad news; we could not represent her. I finished by telling her “good luck.” She came back, “Luck is the devil’s word. God is in charge. It should be ‘blessing,’ not ‘luck.’”
The poor do not exist so we can have someone to give to and pray for. They do serve those functions, but within the Church they are also a great resource for prayer warriors, comforters, and other positions that require great faith. They may not be all that intellectual, and their theological training may be weak, but the Christian poor are a tremendous source of high voltage faith.
As egalitarians, we should be aware of this resource and be helping to see that the poor are used in positions within the church, not just kept as charities. God calls both the rich and the poor, and we want to be sure we’re ready to hear and act on God’s calling to these people whose gifts He can use.