In an effort to move us (myself included) towards a deeper solidarity with the poor a few of us started compiling a list of things we could actually do to make a difference. Some of these could take less than a minute; others could change the rest of your life. This list can be critiqued in a hundred ways but I’ll ask you to suspend your reservations for a while and to choose to engage. The idea is to keep on engaging with this expression of love for our neighbors (a lot of us are indeed already engaged). It's not meant as a legalistic list, rather a list that could get the creative resurrection juices flowing!
[This list is primarily designed for a South African context but I’m sure some of it could apply for other contexts]. Please feel free to add to this list by commenting extra ones, telling stories or by sending links to ways to engage.
1. Visit the apartheid museum with some friends and discuss it afterwards [if you can try to do this with an interracial group].
2. Study Scripture and see what it says about the poor.
3. Build a relationship with domestic workers/garden workers / security guards / cleaning ladies / bus boys etc.
4. Tip at least 20% at restaurants.
5. Discover the humanity of the car guards at malls.
6. Learn from someone else about their culture.
7. Take a ride in a taxi for a day.
8. Attend a cultural awareness course.
9. Visit www.globalrichlist.com and discuss your experience with a friend.
10. Learn another language.
11. Discover local heroes like Beyers Naude, Desmond Tutu, John de Gruchy, David Bosch, Nelson Mandela.
12. Go on a mission trip with a local church.
13. Give 10% of your income away.
14. Learn from people who are already involved with the poor.
15. Eat lunch with a beggar and ask them about their story.
16. Pray for the poor and be attentive to the thoughts you have when you pray.
17. Give beggars your attention and make eye contact admitting their humanity.
18. Allow a poor person to provide a meal for you.
19. Open up your home for the poor and make them a meal.
20. Beg on the street for an hour.
21. Eat a squatter diet for a week and give the money you saved away.
22. Sign up for a poverty simulation.
23. Walk everywhere for a day.
24. Visit churches with different socio-economics than the one you’re attending.
25. Write down your rationalizations for not being involved with the poor and discuss it with friends.
26. Join churches / NGO’s who are already involved in being with the poor.
27. Fast a luxury (like DSTV) and sponsor someone’s education with the money.
28. Spring clean your house and give usable items away or sell it and give the money away.
29. Sponsor old magazines to poor schools.
30. Work on your racism by getting to know a person from the race you’re discriminating against – SAY NO TO XENOPHOBIA.
31. Drive with non-perishable food in your car and give it to beggars.
32. Empower beggars to give and not always to receive.
33. Support soccer by going to a local game or playing and discuss your observations with your friends.
34. Diversify your friendships – start by praying that God would open up new friendships and expect Him to answer.
35. Always give to the disabled.
36. Move into a poor(er) neighborhood.
37. If (36) is too tough for you support businesses in poor neighborhoods (groceries, restaurants)
38. Buy the Homeless Talk AND read it.
39. Give away blankets and gloves in wintertime (preferably to people who already have relationships with the poor and would know where the needs are).
40. Fast food for a week and give what you would have spent away.
41. Keep track of what you’ve spent in a Restaurant for the year and at the end of the year match the amount by giving it away.
42. When you buy a new car go for a lower option and give the money away that you would have spent on the dream model.
43. Downsize house or car in order to give more.
44. Be transparent about the details of your budget with a friend.
45. Work out what your household need (not want) and give the excess away, resist the urge to always upgrade you lifestyle.
46. When you get a new cell phone give your old one (or the new one) away.
47. Go through your closet and notice which clothes are in perfect condition that you don’t wear at all [the same goes for shoes …. especially for the ladies].
48. Oppressive structure cause a lot of poverty … get a group of friends together who research and engage with this level of involvement.
49. Pay your taxes.
50. Share stories of where you or others have engaged in the journey towards the poor.
51. Buy fair trade coffee (here is a great place for those living in SA).
52. Resist brand names and give the money you saved away.
53. Spend the same amount on the poor that you do on dog/cat food.
54. Equal money spent on gifts for the non-poor with gifts to the poor.
55. Build friendships with a church in the squatter camps.
56. Teach someone some of the skills you've acquired in your education.
57. Get a group of friends together and read Trevor Hudson's book (A mile in my shoes) and then follow through on what you've learnt.
This list is a work in progress … so if you can or want to add something else please leave a comment.