Outlawing Charity

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (John 3:17-18)”

Imagine for a moment that it was illegal to feed those in need. Imagine that a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” would enact a law that would forbid those very same people from caring for their fellow man. Picture outlawing the serving of a freshly prepared meal of chicken and vegetable served with broccoli sauce, or a ham and pasta dish, topped with a beautiful white onion celery sauce. Ridiculous, right? Sadly, this pleasant culinary dish served to the homeless in Fort Lauderdale will get you arrested. The fate of our fellow man rest with us and our simple act of kindness. Any government that would interfere with this charity, stand between people of good will and those in need, is not a government of the people.

For 25 years, to honor his wife’s memory, 90-year-old Fort Lauderdale resident Arnold Abbott, known to his community as “Chef Arnold,” has prepared and served four-course meals for the those in need. Chef Arnold considers feeding the homeless his life’s mission. What a glorious, beautiful man. Along with pastors Dwayne Black and Mark Sims, Chef Arnold does an extraordinary thing; he feeds the poor, and has done so consistently for more than 20 years. You do not arrest men such as Chef Arnold, you honor them, and you ask “what can I do to help?”

Fort Lauderdale recently joined the ranks of many cities and states that have enacted laws, especially in heavily travelled public areas, to limit the presence of the homeless. I understand the need for law and order, but these laws do nothing to solve the issue, they merely serve to “move people along.” I am also well aware of all the problems that surround the issue of homelessness. Nevertheless, for 25 years, a World War II veteran named Chef Arnold offered a simple act of kindness, and now suddenly he is the problem. There is a perversion in that type of thinking. The problem is that there are homeless in need of a meal, and Chef Arnold has the solution. He feeds one person at a time a nutritious, hot meal in an orderly fashion, and then cleans up after the meal is served. These types of laws cannot be the answer. In fact, they are not. Government would be better served to help the Chef Arnolds of the world, not hindering them.

We find ourselves just a few weeks away from Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is when most of us think about giving to those in need. Yet Chef Arnold has shown us in his deeds, that our love for our fellow man is a year-round endeavor. The act of giving must come without judgment or trepidation, but with a full heart. A simple meal, served on a plate, handed to a person in search of kindness, done so with dignity. How that person in need found themselves in need of that meal is unimportant, the only thing that matters is that we have the power, each of us does, to make a difference. The time to act is now. The problem is before you, but so are the solutions.

Chef Arnold has a charity called Love Thy Neighbor (http://lovethyneighbor.org), which accepts donations. Locally, the NH Food Bank (http://www.nhfoodbank.org/) serves the entire state with various programs, and assists local food banks as well. Sit down at your computer, call your children or grandchildren into the room and ask them if they want to help feed those in need. Tell the story of a simple man named Chef Arnold, show them the face of charity. Go to Love Thy Neighbor, the NH Food Bank ,or the hunger relief charity website of your choosing, and give. Let the kids rejoice in your act of kindness. Be proud of what you did, but humble knowing more must be done.

And what of Chef Arnold? The day after his arrest this criminal mastermind returned to what he does best, feeding the poor. In violation of a newly enacted law, Chef Arnold, a humble 90-year veteran continued his service to his country and his fellow man. Defying an unjust law that does nothing to solve the problem, Chef Arnold serves his brothers and sisters in need, faced with the truth of hunger, Chef Arnold became a man of deeds.

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