No one gets into heaven without…

… a reference letter from the poor.

That’s the unofficial motto of a group of friends of mine known as Franciscan and Friends. They are an informal, ecumenical group of people who make it their mission in life to follow the example of a couple of guys known as Jesus of Nazareth and Francis of Assisi.

Every year they go to Guatemala, where they feed the poor and play music for people in orphanages, hospitals, rehab centers, prisons, churches, and basically on the street or wherever they can brighten someone’s day. Lately they’ve also been going to Belize. All on their own dime. Now they’ve started this thing called Guitars for Guatemala. They actually give out guitars, and guitar lessons, using music to bridge the gaps of language, culture and economic status that exist between people.

Of course they could use our help (hint, hint). Their website is

No Wooden Nickels is another group that’s out there doing all the stuff we Christians talk about. They specifically help people struggling with cancer who are unemployed or underemployed. They provide not only money, but food, rides to the doctor, whatever people need. Their website is:

I actually wrote this blog entry yesterday (on Ash Wednesday). I was going to write something about Lent being the reality check that we all need from time to time. But then I got a postcard from one of my friends with Franciscan and Friends, and I realized – this is my reality check. In the microcosm that is our own particular context, we may be the 99%, but in the bigger picture that is the world, we’re the 1%. As part of your observance of Lent, consider finding a way to give to the poor. As one early Christian writer advised, if you’re going to fast anyway, take the money you would have spent on food, and give it to the poor. Or just fast from a bit of your money, and give it to people who need it more than you do. Now more than ever (I’m thinking of the economy here), giving away money is an act of faith in God, because it acknowledges that all good things come from God, and it trusts that God will continue to provide.

Franciscan and Friends and No Wooden Nickels are just two groups of people who are out there practicing what they preach. It’s all very Matthew 25. I just thought you should know about them. I think everyone should know about them.

Have a blessed Lent,

Jim Papandrea


About Jim Papandrea

Jim Papandrea is an author, educator, and singer/songwriter. Visit his website at:
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One Response to No one gets into heaven without…

  1. Well said, Jim! Thanks for the reminder about what’s important.

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