To Give…or Not to Give

revised on 8.24.2013 due to some major typos!

The Amazing Raise 2013,’s 36-hour giving challenge,¬†is right around the corner from 6am on Wednesday, September 18 through Thursday, September 19! IMPORTANT NOTE: This is NOT a request to give! ūüôā But, I have already started receiving emails, tweets, FB messages, videos, FB likes and shares, letters and postcards, and more telling me how I should give to different non-profits.

Plea. After. Plea.

One. Right. After. The. Other.

Soon, I will be asked to give at a certain time, possibly at 2am, to help a non-profit win a specific dollar amount. Fun! (insert sarcasm here).

I have a confession…it really makes me want to scream. Really. Loud. But, before you judge…please keep reading!

My primary God-given gift is ‘GIVING’. If you don’t believe me, ask Louis. He will tell you. We’d be broke (LOL) if he didn’t put the brakes to my natural giving tendency. My thoughts…It’s not mine anyway. It’s all on loan to me…to steward on behalf of God; and I really want to be a good steward of what He has given to us. So…how in the world do I decide where to give??? That’s the part that makes me want to SOL (Scream Out Loud). To make it harder, this year…we are on a MUCH tighter budget!

Louis and I are both relational people. So, we really want to give to organizations that our friends are involved in, founded, are board members, etc. As extroverts, we have a TON of ‘friends’. My goodness…we have ‘friends’ poppin’ out the woodwork asking me to give now! SOL

We want to give where our values align. So, what do we value? We want to see sustainable, transformational change. Where God’s kingdom is being built. Where the Gospel is being proclaimed. Where no harm is being done, especially in the “name of Jesus”. Where there’s more than a ‘good story’. Where the community is involved and have a say in what’s happening.

Like many others, Louis and I subscribe to the CCDA Philosophy and really want to support ministries that are doing development work versus mercy ministry. My thoughts and ideas have also been shaped by experts, authors/speakers and books like Beyond Charity by John M. Perkins,  When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert and Toxic Charity by Bob Lupton. You can hear a podcast of Bob Lupton talking about Toxic Charity during his visit to RVA >> here.

One might ask, “What’s the difference?” ¬†Simply put in 3 levels…

Level 1 Mercy Ministry = Hand Out. One person gives. Another receives. There is a need for this, but I think it should be used when it is a real emergency…earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, etc. or when someone really can’t help themselves. examples: Feeding programs. Food banks. Free Markets. Backpacks. Adopt a family at Christmas. Although these ministries make the giver feel good, oftentimes these types of ministries hurt more than they help…causing further enablement, dependency, hoarding, loss of dignity, etc. ¬†Bob Lupton says – “Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) capacity to do for themselves.” ¬†¬†THINK – Give a man a fish.

Level 2 Betterment or Empowerment = Hand Up. Giving is more reciprocal. A small exchange takes place. Definitely a move in the right direction. Becomes a little more time intensive. More commitment is involved. More listening to the community. Examples: Christmas Stores where donated gifts are sold at 20cents on the dollar. Tutoring.  THINK РTeach a person how to fish.

Level 3 Development = Standing Up. This calls for a long-term systemic change and sustainable economic development. This is not an overnight, easy solution. It’s time commitment.¬†Exchange takes place. Doing it with a community not to or¬†for a community. Requires listening to the community and sacrificing your own thoughts and ideas. Examples – Use of lending and investing. Very little grants. Jobs. John Perkins regularly says “The best welfare program is a job.” (see post >> here) Yet according to the cited survey, only 1% of churches do something about jobs. THINK: Teach a person how to own the boat and the pond.

Here’s an example of a sustainable, development concept we LOVE! Maybe one day we will have a LouDawg’s Kitchen afterall… ¬†Whatcha think?

As we approach this time of giving, Louis and I will want to ask ourselves some questions before we give of our time, money or resources. Here’s a few that will get us started, but I’m sure we are missing some….

  • God – where would You have us give?
  • Whose kingdom is being built? God’s or someone else’s?
  • Is it development work or mercy ministry?
  • Is the work being done with a community or for/to a community?

I’m still learning…still struggling…with how to give and serve well.

What other descriptions and examples can you provide of the different levels?

What questions are you asking?

‘There’s only one race…


the human race.’ I could listen to Dr John M Perkins all day every day. We are at the Verge Conference in Austin, TX.

“Feeling Grateful For all He Has Given to me!” Cassie Matthew

Cassie Matthew is a fairly new friend of mine, yet I feel like I have known her all my life. ¬†I love her like a sister and so enjoy getting to know her better. ¬†Cassie is the founder of a ministry called Hands Up Ministries here on the Northside of Richmond, VA. ¬†When we met a year or so ago, she had never heard of CCDA (Christian Community Development Association), Dr.John Perkins, Bob Lupton, ¬†Wayne “Coach” Gordon or any of the well-known folks who have been doing CCD for years…dare I say decades. ¬†But, the Holy Spirit led her to do this work, and she obediently got busy. ¬†Now, we are partnering and learning this stuff together. ¬†She is such an inspiration and encouragement to me! ¬†This is an email that she sent out today to her “pals”, which I am grateful to be counted as one of them. ¬†I have posted it with her permission. ¬†Take a read…and check out Hands Up…you won’t be disappointed. ¬†I promise!

Cassie – Thank you for being my friend and sister in Christ. ¬†I am grateful for how you model being Jesus to our friends. ¬†You’re the best!!! ¬†I am sooo looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us in the future! ¬†May God be glorified in all that we do and say! ¬†Love you! ¬†Mart

November 14, 2011

Dearest my pals….

I am sitting in the doctors office,¬†patiently¬†waiting for a biopsy report to come back…thinking ¬†of how grateful I am to have insurance that I can just¬†waltz¬†in here, fill out paper work sit down and have the work done…never paying a dime(today). Just a mole on the face…not to worry. There is a little coffee machine, and SNACKS…my darlin’ husband is having a big time while I’m all patched up here with a big fat swollen eye….I am comparing my experience with that of my¬†friends, who don’t have the luxury of insurance(private), who sit in offices, without snacks, without coffee and piped in music….and are barely acknowledged. I have sat with my¬†friends¬†in the doctors office, with their “Va. Premier” insurance card, they are treated in a much different fashion than I’m being treated today.

The disparity is so obvious, hurtful, and unnecessary. Why? Why must we treat “the poor” so differently? ‘Perhaps’… I wonder, if we treated¬†friends¬†with dignity, if it were¬†required, ¬†I dare to say many folks might take better care of¬†themselves¬†in a more positive way. Feeling uplifted versus leaving angry and indignant. It just makes me sad, and If you don’t see it firsthand, it doesn’t enter your mind.
Just wondering. Just praying God is leading me somewhere…social injustices abound.

On a lighter, happier note…..This semester has been amazing at the Ministry…I’d love to share with you. VCU students have been so wonderful, we started ¬†“Adopt a Family” ¬†pilot¬†¬†and it is going so well. The city¬†friends¬†are¬†grateful¬†to have someone over who cares, and the Students are¬†really¬†excelling¬†at loving others. Antonio(VCU) has been mentoring a friend, Allen, making decks, fixings¬†friends¬†homes(small jobs, however important), from this opportunity, neighbors want them to come over and help them…For a Fee for the¬†friends! This my¬†friend,¬†is so exciting. ¬†I have to admit, it takes a real effort to help¬†friends, without hurting them, or letting them think “WE” are the answer…“We” are not!…I am very¬†conscious¬†of this always. We must support and not enable…that isn’t always an easy call. Many times it’s not until I’ve(we) made¬†mistakes, that I realized..OK that does/did not help. ¬†Many times, calling on God and asking for His Guidance, is the only comfort I have.¬†

Without a shadow of a doubt, I have finally accepted, there is NO ONE I can change, my power is only working in vain, like a¬†hamster¬†on a wheel…i am¬†just¬†killing myself hoping for a change in individuals…NOPE..that does NOT work. There is only one HOPE: Christ. He is THE only answer. ¬†Christ and the individual have to come to terms with what they are willing to give Him, to make changes, I am no different..I must lean into Him, ask Him for the strength I lack for change…and for me, it’s as equally hard, frustrating,¬†difficult, and often I want to quit, many times I do quit. Knowing what is best, I quit, or i don’t DO what is best for me.
In my own strength, I can’t do it. Imagine how my¬†friends¬†feel…who lack all that I have, i see their pain and difficulty. Still i wonder, is this the way to approach¬†friends…with the encouragement of God, I push on, press in, ¬†listen for His direction and get up and try once more. Peace abounds.

There is joy in giving, loving, seeing others¬†receive¬†joy from giving. VCU students who are teaching dance class to our sweet babies, helping¬†Mohammed¬†with his fire stained home with a fresh coat of paint. ¬†Students who are taking the children on field trips to local parks.Tutors who are loving the children and see the true impact sitting with a child for 1.5 hours, right then and there you feel the impact. VCU lady rams who have taken a day to spend it with our kids to teach them basketball drills, but truly making the children feel so¬†special¬†for being them. Inviting us back, all 25 of us to cheer on the team…Amari says..”Hey there is my coach, Andrea…She yells..”Go Andrea” as if they are long lost friends…Fills my souls with love only God could be filling.

So I press on, trying to do all that this¬†ordinary¬†person can do, and when I am exhausted and defeated, He¬†sends¬†an¬†encouraging¬†word my way through His people. He sends me to an¬†extraordinary¬†Sunday School class with beautiful women…or a local Bible study in my neighborhood for His love. Know that there are moments when i say “Really God?”…I can’t…”Then it’s amazing, i look back, and He and I did.”

For those of you who like numbers: We are sending out 65 meals for Thanksgiving(everyone hand delivered by families, SS classes, small groups, circles, Schools), leting folks know we are proud of their hard work and we recognize them and letting them know there are families who care. 29 kids came to tutoring on Wed., with 30 individual tutors from around the city, with a hot meal from SunTrust and a bedtime story to send them home, loved, full, and tired.(Me Too)

25 of us went to see the VCU Lady rams play ball, that feat alone takes an act of congress to make happen…i wish logistics were easier…But they can make me stronger. Thanks to NHPC for always loaning us vans to get the babies around safely.

We¬†visited¬†Monroe Park to hand out ¬†50 hygiene kits and warm clothes and blankets to the homeless, this is a tough gig….send in your warm coats/hats/gloves for men please.(used is perfect)…Let’s go back!

Knitting continues, Computer classes are increasing, jobs are still hard to land, but we are still pushing folks to keep working on new skills.

We’ve had over 180 volunteers this month, doing a variety of demonstrations of loving others, one favorite new act of love was Wally from NHPC who came and played his¬†acoustic¬†guitar and sang to MY SWEET FRIENDS…it’s so EXCITING when something so beautiful happens like that. He gave what he had…his gift of music.

We keep our focus on housing, knowing this can make the biggest tangible difference in a person’s life in the city…dreams we too have and want. I ask for your prayers for God to Bless this direction, praying for a tangilbe way to show our love in the lives of the working poor.
My love and thanks, for all of you, for your time, your donations, your love and words of encouragement….As I tell my children as I put them on the bus…”Be a Blessing…not a Burden!” Come. Give. Pray.

His in Christ,

Cassie Matthew
Hands Up Ministries/Founder

CCDA Institute presents: Church-Based Community Development Intensive

CCDA Institute is coming to Richmond!  Noel Castellanos, CEO of CCDA is coming to discuss Church-Based Community Development.  See the attached flyer for details.  If you want to print the flyer, click here:  CCDA Church Based Flyer Р10.29.2011.

Be sure to register early!!!  Click here to register > REGISTER HERE!

Reminder! CCDA Cafe

Just a quick reminder:  CCDA Cafe tomorrow, Wednesday, June 30 at 6:30p.  Hope to see you there!  Please RSVP if you plan to attend.  Thanks!



Due to an unexpected response, we have obtained a larger location.  What a wonderful problem to solve!  I could not be more thrilled.  Thanks to Northminster for letting us use your space! New .pdf is located below.

New Location:

Northminster Church
3121 Moss Side Avenue
Richmond, VA 23222

If you want this doc in a .pdf format, check this link –¬†CCDA Cafe Richmond Flyer – New Location.

You’re Invited! CCDA Cafe


Due to an unexpected response, we have obtained a larger location.  What a wonderful problem to solve!  I could not be more thrilled.  Thanks to Northminster for letting us use your space! New .pdf is located below.

New Location:

Northminster Church
3121 Moss Side Avenue
Richmond, VA 23222

If you want this doc in a .pdf format, check this link –¬†CCDA Cafe Richmond Flyer – New Location.













immersion…aka “a dunking”

As you know, Louis and I attended the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) Institute’s Certification Training called Immersion, but some fondly referred to it as a “dunking” instead of an immersion. ¬†We received so much great information in a week’s time. ¬†In addition, we met a lot of great people from across the United States. ¬†We had A LOT of reading to do for the class, but I only have 2 books left to read…and I brought a couple more home with me, too! ¬†If you are interested in the list of books, check out my post¬†1276/27=47.259259.

Some of you have asked…What is CCDA and what is immersion? ¬†Thot I would just share a little about it. ¬†Taken from their website….

CCDA’s Mission


The mission of CCDA is to inspire, train, and connect Christians who seek to bear witness to the Kingdom of God by reclaiming and restoring under-resourced communities.


Wholistically restored communities with Christians fully engaged in the process of transformation.

Statement of Faith

The Lord Jesus Christ, God’s son, redeems us through His death and resurrection and empowers us by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is God’s Word and through it we are called to live out justice, reconciliation, and redemption. The church nurtures God’s people gathered in a community to carry out God’s Word.


  • To strengthen existing Christian Community Development organizations.
  • To encourage new Christian Community Development efforts.
  • To promote Christian Community Development through regional training.
  • To educate and mobilize the body of Christ at large to become involved in Christian Community Development in their area.
  • To sustain, enable and inspire those


CCDA is so rich in history. ¬†Founded by John Perkins and other like-minded leaders ¬†in 1989, CCDA began with one purpose in mind…

expressing the love of Christ in America’s poor communities, not at arms length, but at the grassroots level.


CCDA’s philosophy is based on what are called the…

The Eight Components of Christian Community Development  Revised 11/07/2011.  CCDA has recently updated their website, and these links may not work.  You can learn more about the components at this link> CCDA Philosophy.

Click on the links above to read more, but¬†I will take time to write on each of the Eight Components…some of what I learned and how I think we can apply this within our communities in our city. ¬†I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what you read, from CCDA’s website and from my posts. ¬†Louis and I have begun talking to CCDA about bringing the training here for weekend sessions…starting in the fall. ¬†This is still in the development stages, but I would love to know if you or your church would be interested in participating in this training. ¬†Initial thoughts would be to bring the “Three R’s” (Relocation, Reconciliation, and Redistribution) first. ¬†Let me hear from you!

Our lives have been changed…and yours will, too.