Christ said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 24:40, NIV) At Colorado Christian University we believe that caring for the poor is an essential way Christians live out their faith. Showing compassion is not only a Biblical command but a response of gratitude to God, Who was merciful to us when we were poor in spirit.
In the fall of 2011, CCU dedicated its annual symposium to the topic of Compassion for the Poor. Over the two-day symposium, activists, scholars, and social entrepreneurs challenged students, staff, faculty, and friends of CCU to consider poverty in a different light and to be a “neighbor” to all who need help as the parable of the Good Samaritan instructs us. Neighbor-to-neighbor giving is different than the impersonal paternalism of government programs. It’s about empowering people to move out of poverty and to reach for their dreams. It’s about providing tools to overcome challenges. It’s about strengthening families and communities, education, and forming new habits of mind.
Building on the work of the 2011 symposium, Centennial Institute fellow Krista Kafer worked with CCU staff and faculty to produce 12 short case studies of faith-based and community organizations serving individuals and families in the United States and around the world. The profiled organizations are diverse. The smallest is a faith-based last-chance high school in the Denver metro area, and the largest is a charity helping children around the world. Several of the organizations provide tutoring and mentoring for students in the Denver metro area. One institution instructs teachers in how to provide engaging economic and personal finance lessons thereby helping students make better decisions. Several organizations support individuals recovering from substance abuse, homelessness, or criminal behavior. One ministry focuses on building strong families while another, strengthening communities. All of them directly or indirectly address poverty or related issues.
We hope that these compelling accounts will rally readers to personally invest their time, talents and treasure in the lives of their neighbors through such organizations.