Friday, July 18, 2008

Arrested for Feeding the Poor

On April 4, 2007, at the conclusion of an Orlando police undercover investigation that, according to the Orlando Weekly, cost taxpayers $65,000, FNB member Eric Montanez was arrested. His alleged crime: feeding more than 24 people. His weapon: a ladle.

The result was twofold. One: A jury who understood the concept of "unconscionability" found Eric "not guilty." Two: The arrest scared away groups and people who were participating, especially some of the church groups, who were afraid of being labeled "law-breakers."

Yes, it is unconscionable to let people go hungry, in a city of plenty in a nation of plenty. It is a higher magnitude of unconscionability to persecute those who feel called to serve the poor and subject them to arrest and prosecution.


These stories make me wonder if I would continue to go out and serve the poor if I knew I would be arrested for doing it. Part of me wants to say, "Absolutely", but the truth is that I have a family, and the idea of being arrested kind of scares me. Would I really be willing to feed people, serve people, love people even if it meant that I'd be handcuffed and taken to jail for doing it?

Next weekend our house church is taking a truck load of free groceries to hand out to the families who live at the California Studio Inn in Santa Ana, as we've done for over 5 years now. But what if our local government made it illegal to pass out food to people in motel parking lots? Would I still show up and face arrest?

Next month some of our Mission house church family are taking food and supplies to an orphanage just over the border into Tijuana, Mexico. What if we knew they could be detained and thrown into jail for doing this? Would we still be so eager to serve?

I ask these questions because they reveal a sense of comfort in me that I find disturbing. Am I really more interested in serving and loving others than I am in my own comfort and safety? I know we're not supposed to be stupid about how we serve people either. We don't just take any stranger off the street and allow them to sleep on the floor next to our children at night. We're careful within reasonable boundaries and we use our brains to make wise choices as we serve others.

I just wonder if the day ever comes when serving costs me my freedom or my safety, will I be willing to serve and to love anyway?


1 comment:

mike said...

Dang, Keith...why do you have to write these things that really make me think? Are you trying to subvert all the goody-good Christian boy stuff I've been spoon-fed all my life?