This is a question that is often asked me, for reasons I will get to. On the face of it, it is a reasonable question. After all, if someone is seeking to do good by helping others, typically the needy and vulnerable, e.g. the orphans and homeless, they could do with being supported, although what is often asked for (and is usually needed) is money. Those who might help may be seen as soft targets and helping those who have not would seem to be a good thing.
I should say, I am no paragon of virtue, although ever since I was young I have given to good causes, and this has affected my attitude toward money. If unable to help financially, I have tried to help in other ways. But as I have discovered, the needs are endless and my own ability to meet the needs is limited, and this has meant I needed to be selective. This is something that anyone with a heart has to face and sometimes it comes down to which rules: the head or the heart? As for me, I have tried to exercise wisdom. As painful as this may be I have had to decide who/which to support or not support.
This brings me to Facebook. Nowadays, I receive typically several new “friend” requests each day and I am close to the allowed maximum. I accept those where there seems to be something in common etc. realizing a number of those who do get added to my friend list are involved in compassion ministries, typically orphanages and these are often Christian based. Understandably, several of these try to interest me in the work they do and the bold among them come out directly and ask for financial support. Most of those who do are from Africa and South Asia and often can back up their request with evidence of needs being met.
This is where heart and head come into play. Besides the fact I am already committed when it comes to giving to good causes, I think of all sorts of practical matters. How can I be assured the requests are genuine? how might the beneficiaries be made accountable? How is good stewardship maintained etc.? In the end I come down to a simple response – NO, for practically there is little prospect of getting these questions answered to my full satisfaction. I do so regrettably, not just because I hate to say no but because I may have inadvertently raised expectations. For the genuine, and I have no doubt many are, I want to maintain an interest, say a prayer, do what I reasonably can outside contributing materially etc.
There are no doubt huge needs when it comes to the poor and needy that is not being met by governments and larger NGOs. Kudos to those who see the gaps and out of compassionate interest seek to do what is needed to help the needy. I will continue to monitor what is going on and the next time I am asked by one of my new Facebook friends if I can support their ministry will provide this my response with encouragement to do what is right, mindful “he that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again” Proverbs 19:17.