A Ukrainian boy smiles as he holds a box of food and supplies from the Red Cross. (AP)

A Ukrainian boy smiles as he holds a box of food and supplies from the Red Cross. (AP)

A type of aid you might see in your town is a “food pantry.” People donate canned goods and other nonperishable food for others who need it.

A type of aid you might see in your town is a “food pantry.” People donate canned goods and other nonperishable food for others who need it.

Instead of just giving food, other charities can teach people how to grow food or provide tools for building farms.

Instead of just giving food, other charities can teach people how to grow food or provide tools for building farms.

Help Up or Handout?

Posted: November 1, 2020

How does God feel about helping the needy? These verses—and many others—make it clear:

“You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

“Blessed is he who is generous to the poor.” (Proverbs 14:21)

People in Ukraine need generosity. As they continue in hunger, their immune systems struggle. Without proper nutrition, they become vulnerable to disease.

But how should we help them and others like them?

One option is to send food directly. This certainly helps for a time. But some call this solution a “Band-Aid” fix. A Band-Aid doesn’t help much when a wound needs surgery or stitches. The same is true in food aid. It costs a lot of money to ship food to other countries. And a meal helps someone for only a few hours.

But we can also bless people by giving the supplies, knowledge, opportunities, and tools they need to support themselves. If farmers can grow food, they can feed themselves and sell the extra they grow. That provides food for others and money for farmers to buy what they need to stay in business. It can give them a real way out of poverty. That helps for a lifetime.

Of course, sometimes people need food right now. Maybe they live in a war zone where farming is impossible and no food is available. Maybe a natural disaster has just destroyed their ways of making money. In those situations, we can be ready to give—not just direction, but dinner.

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? — James 2:15-16