Poverty Matters

Poverty Matters

Poverty Matters

The face of poverty appears in many places, forms, shapes, and sizes. And how Christians think about poverty is a window into understanding Christ’s demands for discipleship. Poverty matters! 

One of the earliest Bible stories children learn at home or church is about Joseph in Egypt. He interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, explaining that the coming seven years of abundance were to be followed by extreme drought. People and animals would die unless there was a plan to sustain them. Joseph, mightily used by God, saved Egypt from disaster, and brought his family together during an excruciating famine. During that great tragedy, his family was healed through forgiveness and reconciliation.

Ezra and Nehemiah both faced incredible challenges. They had to rebuild a nation after the Exile. They faced powerful opposition, the poor were once again enslaved, and communities lacked food, and had insufficient protection from enemies. Haggai, the prophet who lived during that terrible time, spoke this way about inflation: “You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it” (Haggai 1:6).

Jesus ministered during Rome’s powerful control of the Jewish nation. The impact of Christ’s life is the basis of Western civilization. His teaching raised faith and obedience to the highest levels. Jesus addressed situations that involved poverty, transforming the mentality of millions. Unfortunately, at that time few followed Him, but His words continued to ring out over the centuries: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). To obey Jesus was to care for others. Feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, invite the stranger in, provide clothing, care for the sick, and visit those in prison. These six types of poverty show how many ways His followers can help individuals. 

Later, Christians following Christ’s directives founded schools, hospitals, and countless other institutions. The impact of the Christian response to poverty shows how the gospel can be expressed in almost every nation. Poverty Matters. So does our response to it. In the biblical situations mentioned above, you will observe that both individual and group actions were taken to relieve poverty.

James, the brother of Jesus Christ, spoke out forcefully against discrimination, a principal cause of poverty. Discrimination soon leads to corruption and greed: wide express lanes that end with impoverishment. To show favouritism is to sin (James 2:9.) Poverty matters!  But mercy triumphs over judgement (James 2:13), and our lives are to display compassion and generosity. “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go in peace, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:15-17.) Clearly, the truth of the fantastic evangel, the gospel, comes alive when Christian compassion reflects the love of God. God blesses work done in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior. 

I never tire of speaking about God’s abundant riches of salvation from sin. I’m always happy to advocate for the poor. In this newsletter, we look at how our missionaries share with the poor. Daniel and Helen Bravo walk alongside Venezuelan migrants limping along the weary road they hope leads to freedom. Kike and Belinda Vega form a circle with young people in Honduras who are  too often trapped by a dismal view of their future. Benjamin and Isabel Martinez have the means to share clean water, a gift to their entire community. Lillian Solt joins hands with many volunteers in Costa Rica as they share with the poor. After years of project management in Central America, Juan Carlos Carcamo engages with insights on sustainability. Why? Because Poverty Matters!

   By David Phillips