Don’t Ignore the Poor

Did Jesus give us permission to ignore the poor? Was the underlying message, subliminally delivered that we don’t have to acknowledge the underprivileged?

In John’s gospel chapter 12 verse 8 it seems the Savior hints we can comfortably shun, avoid and evade the have-nots. He specifically says ‘the poor you will have with you always’ which can be interpreted as an opt out for helping the less fortunate. There is nothing we can do about it.

They are poor and they make poor decisions and God Himself seems to have given up on them. They were born in unfortunate circumstances, have made poor decisions and are unworthy of a second chance if it were given to them. They do drugs, drink, overeat, have too many children, do jail and prison time. We can pretend to follow what we claim as Christ’s teaching and ignore the poor. But is that the full story?

At Miriam Medical Clinics (MMC) we have come to the mindset that Jesus was paraphrasing an old Testament verse. The first part, we get easily in Deuteronomy 15:7-11 For the poor you will always have with you in the land.

It is the remainder of that verse that is the ‘trip-wire’ for taking action. You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in your land.

Those of us who live on the upper side of the divide of material substance, must not ignore those living on the lower side of this divide. When this scripture is taken in it’s entirety, in context of what God expects of us, we are commanded to deal with the inequities we find in every facet of life. MMC serves as a testimony that we dare not ignore the poor. In a world filled with inequities, being unhealthy because you lack access to care should not serve as an excuse to do nothing. We refuse to do nothing.

A young girl becomes a teenager and then a young adult. Her life has been filled with rape by her mother’s boyfriend, beatings by her pimp and then again rape by the prison guards. The doctors advise her that her Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS make it difficult and dangerous to carry either one of these children conceived to term, so she should terminate, abort and move on. Afterall, what can a homeless, jobless 30-year old woman do for a baby but raise it to be just like her? No one wants to give her a chance. She is poor. She is ignored.

The short version of the story is this. Miriam Medical Clinics serves the underserved in America’s 6th largest city, Philadelphia. Six medical schools, countless graduate and post graduate training programs for professionals. The healthcare disparity in this metropolis is based upon zip code.

To paraphrase one Philadelphia reporter, some people are living in Killer Zip Codes. It’s not just bullets and drugs sending so many on early trips to the undertaker. It’s something far harder to escape: the stress of just actually having to live in these places. Their zip code kills them slowly, but surely. They are living in such fear, filth, and hunger takes a toll. It batters the body [and] stunts brain growth…. Kids growing up in Fairhill [Philly’s poorest community] and Strawberry Mansion and Swampoodle [Philly’s most violent areas] have significantly lower life expectancies than kids in Iraq and Syria. Literal war zones. In Fairhill, a child born today is expected to live to 71. That’s three fewer years of life than children in Iraq and Syria, where civil wars rage, bombs explode, and armies of marauding mass murderers roam. matter_of_life_and_death.html Miriam Medical Clinics (MMC) is on a

And yet…, the poor get ignored.

For the past six years, MMC has provided health care services without regard to the ability to pay. We offer full-service consultation, including medication review, physical examination.

We network with multiple churches and social services so that the ignored don’t feel poor and the poor don’t feel ignored. Please join us in this work by giving, joining, volunteering or all of the above. Miriam Medical Clinics cannot ignore the poor and neither can you.

Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Proverbs 14:31 He that oppresseth the poor, reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoreth Him hath mercy on the poor