James reminds us that God has a heart for the poor and the outcast. This isn’t new. God has always unexpectedly chosen those who the world hasn’t esteemed—like Rahab the prostitute or Mary, the mother of Jesus, whom he places in Jesus’ lineage.

God is not off-put by others’ needs and as people representing him, neither should we. But day to day, it’s hard to know how to best respond to those in need in our community. You may be in a hurry or worry that giving money to someone directly won’t best benefit them. However, we can’t let those fears or discomforts dictate our priorities. Instead, God’s priorities to care for the poor should become a priority for us, too.

Here are some things you can do that show that you care for the poor and homeless in our community:

Be empathetic.

An urban ministry leader once asked me, “What point would you have to get to before you would stand on the street and hold a sign?” The answer is a pretty desperate and painful place. Sure, we all make choices that have consequences, but we also want people to help understand us and our stories—not just make assumptions about us based on our current circumstances. Believe the best and show compassion because it’s only by God’s grace any of us experience any good in this world.

Say “Hello.”

Most people who are homeless are often ignored, as people avert their eyes or rush past them. It’s a small but powerful thing just to make eye contact and say “hello.” No, it doesn’t change their current circumstances, but it shows them that they’re seen and still part of our community.

Share resources

In the winter, pack bags of gloves, hats, and chapstick to hand out to people you may drive past. In the summer, keep water and snacks handy in your car to give to someone standing out in the sun. Being prepared with these things shows that you took time to consider the needs of others and took action to do something to meet them. You can also share information about community resources, like the Life Center, to help individuals get connected with those who can offer even more help.

Support local partners

Mission Hills intentionally partners with local organizations who meet practical needs, attempt to fight systematic poverty, and share the hope of Jesus in our area. The Life Center feeds hundreds of low-income individuals and families in Littleton each week through their Food Bank. Open Door Ministries serves individuals and families in the Denver metro area through providing long-term housing, job skill training, quality preschool and childcare services at low cost, and more. Denver Rescue Mission provides emergency housing, meals, and long-term housing to those in Denver experiencing homelessness. By supporting these organizations with your time or your money, you help to serve those in our community receive help and hope from people who care and tangibly share the love of Jesus.