Many times when we think of poverty we think of the compassion commercials which show a small child digging for food in a trash dump or a barely covered boy with a pot belly. And these are true stories that happen all around our world. It’s sad.
We have worked in a number of communities in extreme poverty. And it is so much more than what meets the eye. We see it right here in Minnesota. We have seen all different types of poverty.
However, poverty is not simply a matter of material resources. People from all socioeconomic backgrounds often lack one or more of life’s essentials. There is physical, social, spiritual and intellectual/economical poverty. There are millions of people around the world who struggle with poverty: they are spiritual lacking God, a sense of self-worth, relationships within their community, ability to work productively and stewardship of their resources.
There is always an underlying issue to poverty. It can not always be seen at first glance. In discovering the solution to their poverty involves walking with the people. Understanding why they live the way they live, understanding their beliefs and looking for solutions rather than doing it for them. The trick is to be a facilitator not a savoir. There already is a Savoir.
There are thousands of resources that people can use to change their situation. It is just realizing what those resources are and how they can help. Many times it’s relational resources or material resources that are found in the community. Outside resources should never supplement one’s own capacities. We never want to give the subtle hint that are not worthy or capable of doing things.
For people to overcome poverty it requires that person’s direct involvement. They need to own it and participate in it. They need to reason and think of what is causing them to be in poverty and how can they come out of poverty. It is easy to get stuck in a poverty mindset.
This is why it is very importation to learn from the people, watch and observe them, investigate, ask them questions and really understand why the live the way they do. Then go in and work along side of them. Build that relationship with them, love them for who they are and how God has created them. Once the people have acknowledge they need help to come out of poverty that is when you can work with them. Build a plan. Seek God out and find the necessary resources.
Many times we belittle God’s power and not allow Him to move. People need to be pointed to Jesus, they need to depend on Him not on us. We all like to feel important and like it when people come to us-but please point them right back to God. It’s not about us. We need to look at the big picture.
Discover with them God’s vision and plan for their life. As you see them making their own decisions to come out of poverty and move into God’s goodness, that is when you can step aside and watch. You can be their to support and encourage. Help connect them with others. Continue to pray for them. It’s long journey and many people are struggle with many root issue of poverty. But with God nothing is impossible.