Atheist Statement: Religion Does Not Help Poor People
I have heard it many times when a missionary happens to tell the gospel to someone who is poor: “Religion does not help poor people!” When missionaries or any Christians see a poor person, even giving them a few bucks on the street, and then proceeds to witness the gospel to them the atheists get really angry.
In 2009 I was in Boracay, Philippines which is a tourist island with beautiful beaches and nice hotels. On that island most of the locals are in poverty and many live on the beach and streets and beg from tourists. When I showed up here I did not even expect such things at a tourist location and was surprised that many prostitutes (both female and ladyboy homosexual) were soliciting me and harassing me, many children were walking up to me wanting money or free food, many people sleep on the beach right in public while people are walking around them. I uploaded a video on youtube before, showing the reality of that island that unmasks the ugly reality that from all the nice hotels and bars and all the tourists, various local people are living in poverty. This video has stirred up so much controversy by many tourist types of people who claim it is exploitation or somehow a crime that I filmed such things (you can see the thumbs down the video got compared to thumbs up). Even some Filipinos are upset I filmed it and many call me racist, and claim I have some white messiah complex. All I did was film things I saw during a trip and happened capture these sad things. Why should I not? In the video I witnessed the gospel to a woman who had a baby who was begging. I gave her some money and told her the Gospel in a very short amount of time. I did not expect to see her and fumbled through the Gospel message and could not really do anything else. This pissed tons of atheists off including Filipinos who do not like Christians.
Poverty is all over the third world and many Christians will run into it on travels. What is the proper biblical response to seeing such sadness? Should we walk by and not give money and not share the Gospel? Should we give money and shut up and walk away? Should we share the Gospel but not give them any money? Or should we give some money and then explain the Gospel and hope somehow the Holy Spirit will communicate it to that person and they will somehow be saved? I think it is apparent that the latter thing is what a true Christian should do. Take any moment to share the Gospel! I could have been like any secular tourist and walked past her and did not care one bit about her or her baby, but instead I just felt sad and felt she could use the few pesos I gave her more than I could, and I would have plenty to finish my trip when I went on my way. I am not rich at all. I just decided I cannot truly help them physically but a few pesos, but I do have the message of the Gospel to share. I wonder if I did not share the Gospel if people would have been so angry. Possibly they would be angry I was showing poverty in the Philippines and many racist Filipinos who hate white people, but seem to love our money, would be upset I showed Boracay in a negative light. But I truly think what angered them was the fact I was a Christian and mentioned Jesus to this lady. I am pretty sure that if I was filming random things incluing beggars and all I did was throw out some pesos in her pot and walked on without saying anything they would not have been mad. It is the message of Christ that angers them so deeply. So what hope would an atheist have given her? “Well lady here is some pesos and I hope your life gets better see ya I’m gunna go to a bar now bye!”
Obviously, not every Christian, including me, has money to save the world. We can only do small individual things as we live our lives. I cannot give $100,000 US to any poor person to save them from a life of poverty. Heck, I don’t even have that kind of money. All I could give was a few pesos and still have enough to complete my trip and stay safe. The only reason I was in Boracay was because the church members and pastor I was traveling with wanted to make sure they saw Boracay on this “mission trip” we went on. I did not even want to go there and instead wanted to stay doing gospel work in Manila. Even so, I was there and took a walk alone on the beach at night and filmed what I saw and shared the gospel. I had absolutely no idea this would piss so many people off. I did not do it for attention or to show off, or even to feel good about myself. I just did it to show some people what the reality is and on my way thought, heck I should share the gospel real quick to this begging woman. I uploaded what I filmed to show some real things that people need to be informed about. Tourism has really destroyed a once beautiful island and with all of the extreme wealth and luxury surrounding the island there is so much filth, evil, and desperation.
The Bible teaches us to care for the distressed and poor. And this is the mindset I was thinking when I was filming the reality around me at Boracay, and what I was thinking when I uploaded the video.
Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27
If it was not for religion many charities would not exist and much of the help poor people get would also not occur much. There are aplethora of religious based charities and organizations existing to help poor people in third world countries like the Philippines. Religion convicts people of true morality and to help fellow humans. It also gives a reason for hope. There are far more Christian organizations helping the poor than any other religion and way more than any “kind atheists” out there helping the poor. People who are driven by their faith in God are convicted top help the poor as the bible teaches. Being really offended that a Christian would give money and also express their faith to a poor person is a constant pastime of many atheists. At least we have a reason for the hope that is within us and have a conviction to help. Since I am a Christian just walking on without sharing the Gospel would be a unloving thing to do. If I truly believe hope is in Christ for our eternal state after death then I must share the gospel even if it was in English and she does not speak it well. I did it hoping somehow the Holy Spirit would in some way make it clear and show her His light. The Bible teaches that life in this world, in this state, is temporary and our sorrows will be left behind if we put our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. All of the misery, desperation, and poverty will not be comparable to the life we will live with God in heaven. What else could I do? I did what I could as a Christian who had a few pesos. I will not apologize for that. And I did not do anything, nor film, nor share the gospel, nor even write this blog post in order to claim I am a good person or boast in myself. I can only boast in God for I am nothing and He is all goodness and I did it for Him not my own glory.
People need to see reality. People need to not go on vacation and only gratify themselves as most of the tourist types of people who were upset with me often do. Go on vacation and enjoy luxury and ignore the poor children on the streets in the foreign country you are visiting with all of your money going to hotels, restaurants, bars, and yes many many times: sex tourism. Yet, the Christian who films something, shares the Gospel while dropping in a few bits of change is the bad guy…the state of the world’s hate towards God.