“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Luke 4:18
*photo credit Nate Henderson
Each Sunday morning a large basket is passed through the aisles of our churches as all join in singing the offertory. Grateful congregants place bags of rice and beans, as well as other staples inside as part of their worship of Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides.
This practice of collecting the kilo de amor (kilo of love) started in the Peru Mission churches in 2000 as an important part of our parish ministry. In a recent conversation, Pastor Wes Baker noted the foundation for these offerings:
In New Testament times, after the sermon, the deacons would take up a collection of money and of whatever might be useful for the poor – clothing, food, etc. As everything was put on the table, the minister would separate out some bread and wine, and they would eat the Lord’s Supper. In this way, some of the collection was shared amidst the congregation, but it was mostly for the poor. The deacons would collect whatever was left, and then distribute this throughout the week. This practice is mentioned frequently by many church fathers and is in the background of passages like Acts 2:42-46 and 6:17.
The eating of the Lord’s Supper, from the earliest days, was set in the context of the collection. In the directory for public worship, there are instructions for the collection for the poor. The assembly assumes that if the Lord’s Supper will be eaten, there will be a collection for the poor; we, the body of believers, are receiving a gift, and thus we respond in giving a gift to Jesus’ “least ones” (Matt. 25).
Pastor Wes further explained the significance of this practice, both within the life of the Church and within our context of ministry here in Peru:
As we are out knocking on doors, meeting people, getting to know them, and praying for them, we will often find a family with no food. At this point, the pastor can ask the deacons to build a relationship with this family, and get them some dietary staples from the weekly collection of the kilo de amor. Woe to us if we minister not as our Lord ministered.
Our impoverished context of ministry gave rise to the question of whether we could hope to have any substantive collection from among our churches.
I know that we live in a very needy context. And virtually everyone in our churches is poor. But no matter how poor you are, there is always someone who has more of a need than you do. Scripture says do “not appear before the Lord empty-handed,” even if you can only bring a single grain of rice or a single bean (Deut. 16:16-17).
Through this practice we are taking very seriously Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: "Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’" (37-40).
The kilo de amor is yet another example of the ways we are seeing the Gospel loose the bounds of hardship in our communities. How blessed we are to be able to minister in ways great and small to every heart that is reached, one bag of food at a time.
Mon, October 17, 2011
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