Why Relational Always Trumps Transactional when Serving the Poor

Daris (left) and Michael

Daris (left) and Michael

Recently, Daris Lee, a community leader in Bonton, joined his friend and our president, Michael Craven, when he spoke at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas.

Michael introduced Daris after sharing some of his story so that the audience could glimpse the severe social, cultural and spiritual disadvantages of growing up in South Dallas. Daris, like so many in South Dallas, was born to a young single mother; a 14-year-old to be precise. As a result, his childhood was filled with extreme unpredictability and little to no guidance. By age nineteen, Daris had already become a notorious and violent drug dealer who was on his way to prison. By age thirty-seven, with his health declining due to kidney failure, he could no longer run the streets. He was a predator increasingly unable to maintain his place in a violent social order.

So, when someone in the audience asked Daris, “What scripture stands out most to you in your story?” Without hesitation, he said: “Love thy neighbor as thy self!” Daris went on to explain that it was the love of the people at BridgeBuilders that the Lord used to soften his heart and bring him to repentance and faith. He said, “These people cared about me when nobody should have cared about me and they have never stopped!”

Daris’ story illustrates an essential principle when caring for the “poor:” the church cannot limit itself to mere transactions with those in need; instead, we must enter into real human relationships that will likely require us to bear another’s burdens, meaning it will be messy! However, this is how we earn the right to speak truth and meet the poor’s most pressing needs, which are often far less about material needs and more about the full-orbed application of the gospel to the restoration of their relationship with God, themselves, others and creation.


ALLY program: A simple, practical way to build relationships with those working to get out of poverty, become an Ally! Allies meet once a week for four weeks to have lunch with one of our students. It's a great way to encourage someone working to make a change in their life! Click here and fill out the form letting us know you're interested in becoming an ally.