Justice & Mercy is one of Sojourn's five centralized values (read more here). To that end, this post officially marks the launch of a Sojourn Houston Benevolence Fund, which will serve a dual purpose:  (1) to provide financial support to needy members within Sojourn churches and (2) to issue grants to non-profit organizations serving the poor and powerless throughout Houston. Please read on if you’re interested in joining us. As you’ll see, participation is relatively easy, but the potential impact is enormous!

Blessed to Be a Blessing

Our God is a just and merciful God, and we get the joy of manifesting His character for the sake of those in need. The gospel reveals that God has acted graciously, generously, and sacrificially on behalf of His people, the spiritually poor and powerless. So we're passionate about mobilizing Sojourn members and resources to do the same.

Houston is a needy city. Its citizens are facing poverty and hunger, human trafficking, poor education, homelessness, and fatherlessness. But the city’s challenges are the church’s opportunities. Christians share a rich heritage of selfless service, ingenuity, and societal reform. The gospel declares our glorious dual citizenship, so we have the spiritual freedom to be the best kind of neighbors here and now. We can lead the charge in the fight against human trafficking. We can build bridges across the income gap. We can lead the way in building thorough and sustainable systems of education. And we can lay a beautiful foundation for life in a multi-ethnic society.

At the time of Christ, many devout Jews were fasting two days per week, often taking the food/money they would have used and giving it to the needy, a practice known as almsgiving. The early church continued this practice ubiquitously and with new, grace-based motives. Saint Augustine said that almsgiving customarily "goes along with fasting, so that what is subtracted from the one who has may be added to the one who has not. This is the way to cheat your soul to your own profit; to place firmly in heaven what you take away from the flesh."

Augustine's understanding of almsgiving and fasting was biblical. Isaiah 58 reveals God’s stated purpose for collective fasting:  Is not this the fast that I choose:  to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn… 

The Plan

In order to facilitate and organize almsgiving here in Houston, we’ve created a special giving fund for benevolence. To access this fund, simply click the button below. From there, you can select the ‘Benevolence Fund’ from the dropdown menu.

This benevolence fund will be shared between all Sojourn churches in Houston, and we’re inviting you to contribute by fasting one day per week. For example, you could fast through breakfast and lunch on the day of your parish gathering, or you can pick another day that's more convenient for you. Then, on the day of your fast, set up a weekly recurring donation to the benevolence fund for the amount you would have spent on food ($10, $15, $20, etc.). This grassroots effort, fueled by hundreds of small sacrifices, has the potential to change the social landscape within our churches and throughout our city. Once the fund is fully operational, we’ll cap what stays in the account and give away the surplus (likely on a quarterly basis) to non-profit organizations serving the poor and powerless in Houston.

On the day of your fast, pray however you feel led, but we encourage you to spend at least some time in prayer for the underprivileged in our city. Together, let’s be a praying, fasting, and giving people who act justly and mercifully on behalf of our neighbors in need. Then shall our light break forth like the dawn...