Last time I blogged about poverty, I brought up the question, "How can my gifts of money and/or resources actually make things worse?"
One way to better understand this issue is to come to the realization that poverty is a lot more than a lack of money or resources. One leading Christian thinker in this area, Bryant Meyers, defines poverty this way, "Poverty is a result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings" (Bryant L. Meyers, Walking with the Poor, p86. 2006, OMF Literature).
Given that definition, we see that money is not addressing the root issue of poverty which are broken relationships. And any solution that does not address the root issues does not really solve the core problem.
Just what are these relationships that have gone sour? Meyers lists four primary relationships that all humans have. First, we all have a relationship with God, whether or not we acknowledge that relationship or not.
Second, we have a relationship with ourselves, i.e. our emotional and intellectual understanding of who we are? Am I a child of God who is deeply loved or am I unloved and unimportant in this world? The difference is significant for all of us.
Third, we have a relationship with others, for example, family, friends, extended family, neighbors, society. And finally, we have a relationship with our environment, i.e. the physical world.
Poverty exists when these relationships are not what they ought to be. The question that I have to ask myself when I am giving money to someone is, "Am I detracting from any of these relationships with my gift?"
It takes a while to see and understand how gifts of money could be detrimental. If I give money to a poor man who I find out later is refusing to work because he believes that he can get more free gifts from me, I am hurting him rather than helping him. First, I am hurting his relationship with God because he is viewing me as "his God" rather than the true God who helps the poor. Second, I am marring his self identity by reinforcing the idea that he is helpless and unable to do things for himself. I am confirming his belief that he is worthless and incapable of helping himself with my gift to him, which so much as says, "you are unable to help yourself so I, the one that God does love, will help you."
Poverty is so much more than giving money and yet, money is needed to help alleviate poverty. But money given unwisely can hurt more than it helps. For anyone who wants to understand this better, there is a wonderful Christian book called, "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor ... And Yourself" by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.
Today we celebrated James and Jerard's 2nd birthday. Their birth date is tomorrow October 26, but we celebrated with friends today since it is not a work/school day.
Jerard and James with Chaim and Shaul - who are also twins!
Friends! JR, Ben, Michael. 2nd Row - Lani Lou, Lori Ann, Kirsten
Jocy and Jambi (Beth Mari)
Jocy, Jambi, James, Lori Ann, Bebe, Lani Lou
Mark, Chaim and Shaul talking
Lola Arlene and Jerard
Barb and James
Blowing out candles.........................
Enjoying Cake and Ice Cream..................................
Opening up gifts.........................
"For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child, friends on earth and friends above, for all gentle thoughts and mild; Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise."
A little while ago I asked the question, "what is the poverty of the rich?"
Often when asked what it means to be poor, the poor themselves will respond much differently than the non-poor would imagine that they would. As a non-poor person, I would define poverty as a lack of something such as money and/or resources. It turns out that that definition is very common among North American Christians.
Yet, most often the poor themselves define poverty in different terms. They use words like shame, humiliation, powerlessness, lack of control, hopelessness, and fear. Yes, they do talk about lack of money or resources too, but often that alone does not do justice to what poverty means to them.
So, part of the poverty of the rich is not really understanding the plight of the poor. And if I really do not understand the poor and what poverty means to them, I will very likely err when it comes to providing aid to the poor.
For example, if I define poverty in terms of money or resources, my solution will be money or resources or the means to make money or resources. What I will have failed to realize is that sometimes, in fact, many times my money and resources themselves more deeply instill a sense of shame, humiliation, powerlessness, lack of control, hopelessness, and even fear. And when that happens, poverty will increase in spite of the additional money and resources.
But how can my gifts of money and/or resources actually make things worse? I'll save that discussion until next time.
We were blessed with the opportunity to go across to Samal Island with friends.
Once on Samal we drove around to look at some places to camp at and also have some fun at some of the sights there.
The Car Ferry
On the Ferry
On the Ferry
Housing on the ocean bay
Bats at the Bat Cave
Bats - it was fascinating to see the thousands and thousands
of bats hanging on the cave walls.
All the kids by one of the bat cave holes
Some women on the island washing clothes
Ben, Jadon and Samuel in a Japanese tunnel from WWII
Kirsten and Trea in the Japanese tunnel from WWII
At Hagimit Falls
Mikayla jumping from a rock into the water below
Mikayla, Kurt, Danielle playing in the water
Mikayla and Kurt enjoying the water
Danielle, Anna, and Mikayla enjoying the rocks
Ben jumping into the water
Kurt and Ben
Kirsten and Trea racing leaves down a water slide
The 2nd graders presented a readers theatre today to parents and other students in their classroom. It was very cute and well done!
Ben, doing his part