Charity and the Protestant Reformation

Have you ever heard someone say, “Why put food in a poor man’s body while his soul is going to hell?” Or, “Who cares what happens to this world? It’s all going to burn anyway!”

Here at Cross, we believe that evangelism and charity go together. God wants us to seek souls, but he also wants us to care for the bodies that contain them.

As it turns out, the bulk of church history – even Protestant history – agrees with us.

16th century pastor and scholar John Calvin considered the welfare of the poor an important responsibility of the church.
16th century pastor and scholar John Calvin considered the welfare of the poor an important responsibility of the church.

This year, many Christians are taking a fresh look at the life of reformer John Calvin, who turned 500 last month (imagine the size of the cake holding all those candles!). Calvin is famous for his teachings about God and salvation, but less well known is the concern he had for the welfare of the poor.

While living in the city of Geneva (now in Switzerland), Calvin made sure the poor didn’t starve or get turned away from hospitals. He promoted job growth and interest-free charitable loans, and taught the wealthy to lead humble lifestyles and avoid expensive jewelry, so they could use their money to give generously to poor refugees fleeing religious persecution. Calvin’s system worked so well that there were no beggars on the streets, and in 1554 one observer called Geneva “the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the apostles.” Quite a compliment!

You can help provide a loving home for orphaned and abandoned children at Casa Bernabé in Guatemala.
You can help provide a loving home for orphaned and abandoned children at Casa Bernabé in Guatemala.

Charity isn’t just a Presbyterian thing, a Lutheran thing, or a Methodist thing. It’s for anyone who believes Jesus meant what he said when he commanded us to care for the orphan and the widow. Famous Christian leaders like Calvin, Martin Luther, John Wesley, and William Booth had many points of disagreement; but when it came to helping “the least of these,” they all stood together in obeying the call.

Today, we’re carrying that call to places like the Casa Bernabé orphanage in Guatemala. This Christian ministry takes in orphaned, abandoned, and abused kids, and provides for all their material and nutritional needs while teaching them the Bible and encouraging them to develop a personal relationship with Christ. They get food for the body and also food for the soul, while being nurtured in a loving and personal family environment.

You, too, can help “the least of these” today, by supporting Casa Bernabé or one of our other great projects!

OTHER STORIES

Uganda Landscape

The Sights and Sounds of Uganda’s culture

Cross International is proud to partner with the Project Princess Initiative to support girls in Uganda, helping them stay in school to gain a complete education and valuable training. Through working with these girls and their communities, our goal is to invest in a bright future for this nation, which offers a fascinating cultural experience to fill the senses with tastes, sights, and sounds not soon forgotten.

Read More »