Monday, December 29, 2008


Churches get back to basics for Christmas
Economic downturn inspires many faithful to give, not get.
The Orange County Register

As the twinkling lights and merry music made their dependable yearly debut, pastor John Thomas sensed a shift in the mood of those around him.

It came up time and again with members of his Soul Survivor Church in Costa Mesa: the consumerism, the commercialism, the Black Friday shopping sprees for the biggest, newest, next big thing. "It all strikes an uncomfortable tone," he said. "People were feeling like something's not quite right. The true spirit of Christmas has been hijacked by our culture."

It's a sentiment that's increasingly common in churches throughout Orange County, especially as job losses mount, home foreclosures rise, and most everybody is feeling the pinch.

Many churches responded by calling on their members to focus on giving instead of getting.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


As I hear what people are saying about poverty in America, I always have to mention that, although poverty in our country may not be as "severe" as what we see in Africa or India, etc., it is not any less poverty.

For example, if you were to give air conditioning or color television to one of those families living in a cardboard box in the Sudan, would they cease being poor? Of course not. And families in America with color tvs and air conditioning are no less poor because of their level of comfort. They are still poor. And they are "Our Poor".

I belive that there is a Biblical difference between how we are called to serve the poor in other countries and "our poor". The poor in India, Mexico, Ethiopa, etc. are seriously, desperately poor. No one argues that. This is why I've served on the board for groups like Arms of Love (, a ministry that builds orphanages in the poorest nations of the world to provide homes for street children who live in the city dumps and are forced into prostitution, etc.
So, please, let's be clear; I'm not saying don't help the poor who are "out there".

But the poor in your city, in my city, down the street from me, they are "our poor", and what we're called to do, Biblically, is something about it. Not to solve poverty. Not to cure it. Not to erase poverty forever, but to do what we can to help a few, in the name of Jesus and with the compassion of Jesus.

Actually, as I've said before, the point of serving the poor is not to "cure" or "solve" poverty, but to befriend people who are in need and to learn to love and serve them as we would serve and love Jesus. We are the one's who are most changed in that relationship, by the way.

The quote from Jesus in Matthew about "the poor you will always have with you" was Jesus referencing Deuteronomy 15:7-11. You should seriously read this passage. The point is that God, the Father, is commanding the Jews to not have a hard-heart or a closed fist towards the poor, the stranger, etc., but to give generously, freely to the poor among them. At the end of the passage, God say, "There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land."

That's what Jesus means when he says what he does in Matthew.

Read Matthew 25. At the Judgement Seat of Christ the one criteria is whether or not those who call him "Lord" had any regard for the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the prisoner. The Sheep almost unconsciously care for these poor, not because they think it will get them into Heaven, but simply because they have genuinely been transformed into the people of God. The Goats, who also call Him "Lord", have the same unconscious attitude, but towards the existence of the poor or their needs.

The people of God, redeemed by the Blood, saved by Grace, seem to have an inability to walk past someone who is naked, poor, hungry, thirsty, lonely, etc. and do nothing. They cannot do that. It's not in their new nature.

We have a Biblical mandate (and it's alllll over the Scripture, both Old and New) to care for the poor..."our poor"...and that takes more than writing a check.

Again, this is my very biased conviction. I've been hammered by God on this issue and I cannot let it go because it won't let me go.

Do you know what the sin of Sodom is? Read Ezekiel 16: 49. It's not what you think. "Now this is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were proud and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen."


How about this one?

Galatians 2:10- "All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." (Paul being sent out as the first missionary by Peter, James and John).


{God is speaking of King Josiah:}
"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" (Jeremiah 22:16)


"Is that not what it means to know me?"

What does it mean to "Know" God? This verse suggests that it means to care for the poor and the needy.

and of course we could also look at, Isaiah 58:6-7, Amos 5:21-24, 1 John 3:17-18, James 2:14-17, etc., etc.

God has called us to care for the poor, not to justify their poverty or our lack of compassion by comparing them to the "real poor" in third world countries. are we doing with serving and loving and befriending "Our Poor"?

-Keith Giles

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The Orange County Board of Supervisors has voted to spend the following amounts in the new $5.56 Billion Budget:

$54,463 for a company to test fire alarms at Juvenile Hall once during the year.

$45 an hour through 2009 for one man to perform "Rodent Control Services" at the county's flood-control channels.

$165,655 bonus to ACS State & Local Solutions (formerly Lockheed Martin) for the company's work on a lucrative $22,087,278 information technology contract.

$22.6 million for 3 Anaheim parcels the assessor's office says are worth less than $9.5 million.

$100,000 to the private Orange County Business Council which lobbies for the Irvine Co. and other local corporate giants so that it can produce a "Workforce Investment" Study.

$99,000 bonus to a Newport Beach consultant (Lisa Burke) who was already getting $100,000 to write a "Community Indicators Report" that the Business Council will use to track "key indicators of economic, social and environmental well-being in an effort to assess the overall quality of life in Orange County."

$240,000 to local Republican Party boss Scott Baugh, a self-styled fiscal conservative for lobbying in Sacremento.

$60,000 a year until 2010 for a company to shred documents at just one county department: Social Services Agency

$136,000 to build a canopy at the entrance to a county building.

$135,000 for a company to perform art exhibhition packing services at John Wayne Airport.

$268,000 for a company to test and (if necessary) repair the fire alarm system at Theo Lacy Jail over the next 12 months.

$93,000 to a private firm that will pick up mail at post office boxes for two county departments.

$435,000 for just two IBM office laser printers - $102,000 for the machines and an astonishing $333,000 for maintenance.

$67,000 for consultant Mike Mount to determine whether the county's purchasing operations are wasteful.

--Source: The OCWeekly

Friday, October 10, 2008

Family makes 200K a year and gives most of it away

MORNING READ: How rich is rich? The Hsieh family donates most of its earnings to others.
By LORI BASHEDA- The Orange County Register

Who on earth would make $200,000, and give away all but $48,000 of it?

Who would hunker down in the hood when they can afford the heights?

Tom and Bree Hsieh. That's who.

The couple belongs to a club made up of people who donate at least half their salary to charity for at least three years straight.

It's called the 50 % League and it grew out of Bolder Giving, an organization started in 2007 by Boston suburb philanthropists Anne and Christopher Ellinger. The mission: To encourage people to publicly proclaim their stories of giving in hopes that it inspires others to give boldly.the 120 club members are millionaires, often folks who inherited giant sums of money and, feeling either burdened or guilty or unbelievably generous, decided to give most or all of it away.

Folks like John Hunting, who is quoted on the Bolder Giving website, saying this gem: "When I got a $130 million windfall in 1998, I decided to give it away quickly."

But as admirable as that is, its one thing to give away windfalls when you're still left with enough money to live comfortably (Hunting kept $10 million). It's another thing to give away so much money that you wind up wearing 99 cent thrift store ties to corporate meetings. Cheerfully, we might add.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008


"Poverty in the OC" - Interactive Presentation
Over the last five years I've put together a brief interactive presentation that educates people about what poverty looks like in Orange County, as well as what God's Word says about how we should respond to those in need around us, combined with practical suggestions about how to get started serving the poor in our community.

So far God has blessed me to share this interactive and informative presentation with several groups ranging from mega-churches in Costa Mesa (RockHarbor), to house churches throughout Orange, and at conferences in Tustin ("The Heart of Jesus") and Newport Beach ("Soul Survivor: Engage").

The presentation is the easiest thing I've ever done because, the way it's structured, I hardly have to teach or speak at all. Instead everyone who participates draws one slip of paper from two different piles- one is a stack of stats on poverty in the O.C., the other is a verse from Scripture regarding God's heart for the poor.

I ask each person to take one of each and write a reaction to these two randomly drawn bits of information. After they're done I ask each person to read their stat, read their verse and share with the group their reactions.

Every time I have lead one of these presentations I have always been amazed at how these "random" verses collide with the statistics on poverty. We never get through the presentation without someone breaking into tears or having a serious moment with the Holy Spirit concerning the very real issues of poverty families face here in our community and the heart of God for His people to love them and respond.

Each time God has amazed me with what He's done in people's lives and how He's touched the hearts of many to step out and serve others.

If you, or any other group or church you know of, would be interested in having me come and share this presentation with you, I'd be happy to do so. This will work with both large and small groups of people.

My heart's desire is to see God's people here in Orange County step out of their comfort zones and begin to love the least and the lost in the community around us.

Let me know if you have any questions about this or if I can serve you in this area.


Keith Giles
Email: "Elysiansky" (at) "hotmail" (dot) "com"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008



I highly recommend Keith Giles’ interactive presentation on “Poverty in the OC”. First Keith knows his topic. He brings together careful research with the practical wisdom and undiminished compassion that comes with years of first-hand experience.

Secondly, he has a gracious approach to teaching his topic that shames nobody, and engages everybody – young and old. He was able heighten our awareness of the serious problem of poverty, and at the same time to inspire in us a new sense of possibility that ordinary people like us, with God’s help, could make a difference in the lives of those in need. Keith’s compassion for the poor in Orange County is infectious, and by the time he had finished we had all caught the bug.

Marti Clark
Regional ALPHA Ministries Event Coordinator

Schedule your free, Interactive Presentation on Poverty in the OC today. It's specifically designed for small groups, leadership and pastoral teams, or any group that's interested in learning more about poverty in Orange County and how to get more involved helping people in our community.

To set up your Interactive Presentation please email Keith Giles at
"Elysiansky" (at) "Hotmail" (dot) com
*Use the subject heading "Poverty In The OC"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Welcome To The OC Where We Manufacture Homelessness

Orange County is second only to Los Angeles for the largest number of homeless people in the State of California. The difference is that homelessness in LA County is caused by drug addiction, mental illness or substance abuse related factors.

In Orange County, out of our 35,000 homeless, 80% of them were forced into this lifestyle because of the lack of affordable housing and rent controls.

Think about that. 80% of the people in Orange County who are currently homeless could be living in an apartment anywhere else in the Nation. It's only because of the cost of housing here that they remain homeless.

We make our own homeless.

This means we can also un-make them.

Here are a few more statistics courtesy of the County of Orange Community Indicators Report:

* There are 5,389 homeless children in Orange County under the age of six.

* There are less than 900 emergency shelter beds in all of Orange County.

* There are 30,000 homeless who need a place to sleep each night.

* 60% of the homeless in Orange County go regularly without meals.

* 81% of the homeless in Orange County feel severe hunger each night.

* Hundreds of families in Orange County face a dilemma. Living on an extremely limited income forces them to choose between food on the table and a table on which to eat food. They can eat or they can pay rent, but not both.


Thursday, June 19, 2008


You've no doubt heard someone say this whenever the subject of homelessness and poverty comes up in conversation. Maybe you've even said this out loud yourself.

The amazing thing about the poor in Orange County is that 80% of those who are classified as "Homeless" have a job.

Yes. That's right. They already have a job.

Even though 80% of those who live in motels week to week, or in their cars, have a job in Orange County, they don't make enough to afford first and last month's rent, a security deposit and money for a credit check each time they put in their application.

The fastest growing job market in the OC is in the service industry, which means jobs flipping burgers, taking orders at Fast Food joints or bagging your groceries. None of these jobs pay enough to afford a one bedroom apartment in Orange County (as the entries below illustrate).

Find out more by downloading the free PDF file at the left and read more about the conditions of living for the 35,000 homeless in California's second largest economy - Orange County.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How is Orange County Doing?

Orange County has the second highest number of Homeless in the State (LA County is #1), but the difference is that Orange County creates their own homeless thanks to a lack of affordable housing, zero rent controls and scarcity of jobs paying enough to afford even a one bedroom apartment.

For example:

Fair Market Rent (Monthly)

One Bedroom $1,161 (2006) - $1,238 (2007)

Two Bedroom $1,392 (2006) - $1,485 (2007)

Three Bedroom $1,992 (2006) - $2,125 (2007)

Estimated Orange County Median Family
Income (Annual)

$78,300 (2006) - $78,700 (2007)

Amount a Household Earning Minimum
Wage Can Afford to Pay in Rent (Monthly)

$351 (2006) - $351 (2007)

Amount a Household Earning 30% of Median Family Income Can Afford to Pay in Rent (Monthly)

$587 (2006) - $590 (2007)

Number of Hours per Week a Minimum Wage Earner Must Work to Afford a One-Bedroom

141 hours (2006) - 154 hours (2007)

Source: Orange County Business Council Analysis of HUD statistics using the methodology of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (

Monday, June 16, 2008


The County of Orange funds an annual community indicators report which examines the conditions of living in the County and, of course, identifies trends regarding the economy, affordable housing, job rates, salary comparisions, etc.

Here is the 2008 OC Community Indicators Report

Be sure to read over the following sections:




Most revealing is the fact that the county is fully aware that they create their own homelessness due to a lack of rental controls and a scarcity of jobs that pay enough to afford a basic one bedroom apartment.

Here's one of the most telling set of statistics (under "Rental Affordability"):

*The hourly wage needed for a one-bedroom apartment rose from $23.81 in 2006 to $25.57 in 2007 – equivalent to an annual income of $53,185.

* Among state and national peer metropolitan areas, Orange County has the highest Housing Wage (less affordable rental housing).

* According to employment projections, most of the occupations likely to have large gains in the county’s high-growth industries (services, manufacturing, and retail trade) have hourly wages far below the Housing Wage.


If you'd like to schedule a "Poverty In The O.C." interactive presentation for your church or home group please feel free to contact me directly at "Elysiansky" (at) "Hotmail" (dot) com.

Keith Giles