Why You Should Not Say, “The poor will be with you always.”

“Poverty is not a sin.”

 

He spoke these words boldly, as if he was saying something prophetic. Then he gave a pregnant pause, and waited for the audience to delight at this great revelation. These were the words uttered by a pastor while I was attending a workshop at a church planning conference for leaders. While this statement is true, I didn’t find the words that followed particularly insightful.

He approached the topic of poverty in the same way that I have heard many American pastors and Christians quote the scripture:

“The poor will be with you always…”

When I hear both of these statements, particularly in the contexts in which they were given, I have great concern that the pastors are not challenging themselves or their hearers to respond to poverty in any tangible way. The problem with these holy references is they are both incomplete, and an incomplete truth can be just as harmful as a lie.

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Violence, Compassion, & Last Week with @IJM

Last week, I attended the International Justice Mission (IJM) annual Global Prayer Gathering. I sat among 1400 people from across the world and listened to stories, testimonies, and the great work of IJM, but mostly we heard reports from the IJM field officers and we gathered to pray. This was my second time attending the gathering. The experience is one of the most humbling practices and reminders of my year. It is nearly impossible to fathom that there are such crimes against humanity happening all around the world. It is encouraging to know that God is at work. It is evident when I pray that God breaks up the fallow ground in my own heart about what is important, what is priority, and how I can join in his redemptive work.

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Dangerous Act: Injustice and The Problem of Misperceiving

Part 2: Seeing

Chapter 3: The Problem of Misperceiving

People in desperate circumstances do desperate things and rationalize each step along the way. – Mark Labberton

The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor On Saturday, I attended a seminar on the Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary Charlotte campus where discussed the topic: Rich Church, Poor Church: Exploring Affluence and Poverty within the American Christian Community. One of the most insightful speakers of the day was educator and author, Dr. Ruby Payne. Dr. Payne expounded upon her research and life experiences concerning the hidden class rules, providing specific examples from people in generational poverty, middle class, and wealthy communities. For each category, she addressed the driving forces for decision-making, the way each community views other people and “the world,” and our natural responses to physical fighting and food. For example, in her article titled, Understanding and Working with Students and Adults in Poverty, Dr. Payne wrote:

For those in generational poverty, the driving forces for decision-making are survival, relationships, and entertainment.    

For those in the middle class, the driving forces for decision-making are work and achievement.

For those who are wealthy, the driving forces for decision-making are social, financial, and political connections.

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