Good, Better or Best

Homeless person asleep on the streetWhat would Jesus do if given the choice between helping the homeless or transcribing vital statistics from digital images to text on a computer? Believe it or not recently I was personally confronted with this exact dilemma. I had to choose between two good things I could spend my time doing. Here is what happened:

A couple of weeks ago I helped someone at the LDS church (or mormon church) with a presentation on Family History. The LDS church is embarking on an ambitious project to digitize vast numbers of census and vital statistics documents in their archives to make them more accessible to people doing genealogical research. When the project is complete it will be a wonderful resource for both genealogists and academic researchers. The church is encouraging as many of its members as possible to participate in this project.

The following day I read in our local newspaper that homeless shelters in the city were looking for volunteers (look to the end of the article I linked to to find out how to volunteer to help the homeless in Victoria, BC, Canada) to help out in order to make more beds available for homeless people as winter approaches.

I couldn’t help but think back to a title of a talk given by one of the leaders of the church, who said that as we look the things we do in our daily lives, to make sure we are not just settling for the “good”, but look for the “best” things that will do the most good. So what would Jesus do? Anyone who is familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan will know that Jesus would most certainly help the homeless person. While digitizing historical records is a good thing to do, helping someone who is homeless is undoubtedly a better use of my precious time.

I’ve now signed up to help out at emergency shelters that are opened in extremely cold weather (cold for Victoria at least). I’ll post something after my first night volunteering to let you know how it went.

photo credit: james_at_middleage
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  1. Rich,
    Enjoyed reading your thoughts!

    Although some writer of the new testament attributes the story of the good samaritan to a man named Jesus, the same Jesus is supposed to have also said something to the effect that, “the poor will
    always be with us” and he also sanctioned the use of expensive oil to be used to massage his feet. Sorry, it doesn’t sound like he’s the one we should hold up to the homeless dilemma on the B.C. coast, Calgary or anywhere else.


  2. Your point is well taken. I still haven’t heard back from the shelter about the training session I was told about… I guess I better follow up with them.


  3. Goodness sakes! Of course it would be “better”, why are we on line?! Why have any other activities than feeding the homeless and other noble deeds? Man you sure made your point, no more genealogy for me. Good on you Rich.

  4. I guess my point was that as a religious organization, more time and resources would be focused helping people in need, both in and out of the church, who are alive rather than dead.  As it says in Matthew 8:22, “let the dead bury the dead.”

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