Monday, February 11, 2008

Banquet for the Poor?

We helped serve at a fundraiser banquet the other night. As happy as my husband and I were to help out, something was nagging both of us about the whole thing. It just seemed weird. Let me give a little backround. The money raised from this event went to benefit Crisis Ministries, an incredible ministry that provides food for the homeless and poor in our area. Tickets for this event were sold for $25 apiece, and for each ticket purchased, a dinner of steak or grilled chicken was served to the purchaser. Musical entertainment and door prizes were also a part of the evening.

Here is where my feelings of uneasiness set in. My mind instantly started translating the evening as the following: a steak dinner served to affluent people, served by affluent people to provide food for people who are incapable of eating such a dinner. Don't get me wrong. I don't intend to criticize the participants. The people involved with Crisis Ministries are generous people full of love. The people purchasing the tickets to the dinner are desiring to help a worthy cause. I am sure this is the way things have been done for as long as people can remember. My question is this. When did this tradition get started? When was the idea birthed that wealthy people should get together and feast on an extravagent dinner in order to provide nourishment for people who are going hungry? Who are we truly serving through such an evening? What does it truly accomplish? Is the idea biblical? I know that providing for the poor is. Could there be a better way?

What if we could go to the streets and serve a fancy steak dinner for the homeless? What if we just asked people to provide to make it happen...without anything in return but a swelling of generosity in their heart? Now is that idea biblical? What if we ate side by side with our less fortunate brothers and sisters? What if we sat and enjoyed fellowship together...not US eating together at one dinner and serving THEM together at another?

What if we couldn't tell who was the provider and who was the receiver? Don't get me wrong. I love serving people. I feel incredibly blessed to be in a position to provide a blessing to them. It blesses me. I humbly smile as they tell me how appreciative they are for me lending them a helping hand. And I think of the times when I could have used such a hand. What if we provided an opportunity for them to be the ones receiving the thank you's? What if we served side by side, just as we sat and received side by side? After all, the one thing that I know everyone needs in their life is a feeling of being needed...a feeling of being able to do something for someone else, and hearing that 'Thank you. You made a difference in my life'. What if we gave them an opportunity to be appreciated instead of merely appreciative?

I just think about how so many programs have provided for the needy. They have accomplished some wonderous things. But I wonder how much more we could accomplish if we change our way of looking at things. We could change the world!

Think about it.


Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

you pretty much summed up why I hate auctions/dinner/dance/thingies to raise money for charity.

It feels like a slap in the face, really.

I've been on both sides of the coin. Growing up my parents were always invited to these types of deals, and I can say that most of the people going could care less about the issue at hand (who me? get dirty and feed the homeless! no thanks, I'll just make a donation and look pretty doing it)

Blahhhhhhhh the apathy makes me want to throw up the steak dinner.

Anne-Marie said...

I sometimes feel this way too - but then again, there are people who wouldn't give otherwise - people who give for more social and public reasons than just giving altruistically. If expensive dinners are the way to get these high donors, well, then ya' gotta do the dinners even if they seem less effective than other options of direct giving.

koinoniacommunity said...

So true...but how sad. It destroys any opportunity for empathy.