Have you ever had a party and invited the poor, the crippled, the lame, or the blind? Me neither. Thankfully there are guys like Matt Talbert.
Matt is a local college student who is actively doing the kinds of things I preach. He is involved in an organization called Engage Louisville. They are a group set up to help the poor and homeless in Louisville. I was blessed (and pretty convicted) by hearing about the work they are doing so I decided to share it with you by interviewing Matt.
So what is Engage Louisville?
Engage Louisville is all about following Jesus’ instruction to bless the poor. In Luke 14:13 Jesus said to invite the poor when you give a banquet, and that is just what we are doing. We plan to serve 250 homeless people in a warm and open environment including decorations, a talented musician and other performers, and a speaker sharing the heart of Christ.
Engage Louisville is also about supporting Jefferson Street Baptist Center, one of the local homeless ministries in town. We are calling for 500 people to give up eating out two times a month for four months, a challenge we are calling the Isaiah 58 Fast.
You are kind of a young guy. Most college kids are doing well to change out of their pajamas, how did you get involved with this project?
In high school, I heard of a couple who took this command literally and invited homeless people to their wedding banquet. This story stuck with me and planted a dream in my heart. About two years ago, a friend in Florida held a banquet for the homeless in his city and I was encouraged to do the same. At the beginning of last semester, I decided that with the support of some key leaders in my life, I was ready to step out and begin to put Engage Louisville together.
So you are taking that passage of the Bible quite literally? Jesus clearly says to do this kind of thing, but I seriously doubt that many of us have, including myself. What are you goals for Engage Louisville?
We have three primary goals.
1. To bless the homeless – We want to follow Jesus’ example and honor the poor by having a banquet and inviting them to be the guests of honor. They will also have the opportunity to connect with some of the local organizations designed to support them.
2. To help the church to engage the poor and homeless – We also aim to connect Christians with opportunities to fight poverty and serve the homeless. Most of us have not had much experience ministering in this way and its a great way to get started. We think you will walk away a changed person.
3. To raise money to support organizations that support the homeless – Fighting poverty requires money. We want to raise awareness and partner with the Jefferson Street Baptist Center. Our goal is to raise $20,000 through the Isaiah 58 fast.
Some might be skeptical about how much a banquet in one evening will really help people. How do you respond to this?
I agree that this banquet will not end homelessness in Louisville. I would say the primary reason I believe in the banquet is that it is a command taken straight from the mouth of Jesus.
We want to create a place of rest, where our homeless friends in Louisville can come for a night and forget the difficulties in their life. We want to honor a group who is many times dishonored. We also want to raise awareness of homelessness in Louisville and raise money for those who are supporting them. As I mentioned I think Christians need this banquet as well. I hope that the people who support us will be affected by the experience of doing something for those who are needy. Ultimately, we want to see people, whether homeless or homefull, transformed by the power of God.
All of these purposes can be fulfilled in the banquet.
There you go again with that “obey Jesus” stuff. I am starting to get uncomfortable around you. How can people get involved with Engage Louisville?
The two primary ways that a person can get involved with Engage Louisville are by helping with the banquet and through the Isaiah 58 Fast. Our website has detailed information about both of these projects, but you need to hurry. The banquet will be held on Monday April 10. We need volunteers and we need to raise money.
There are other ways to get involved and you can research this on our website, but feel free to be creative and send an idea our way too!
Thanks for sharing Matt. I plan on helping out at the banquet and hope that some of our readers today will either join us or find ways to help fight poverty in their own city.
In what ways have you been involved in ministry to the poor?
Visit my new website!Thanks for stopping by. I have started a new blog about Living Better Stories that is updated on a regular basis. I would love to interact with you over there as well. JeremyStatton.com