Poverty. When you hear the word, a predictable series of images probably flicker through your mind: A homeless man living under an overpass in Chicago. A shoeless child on the streets of Mumbai. A jobless widow in a Kenyan slum.
When we think of these people, we rightly want to help. But good intentions are not enough. We often do inadvertent harm in our attempts to help people who are poor. Because we think of poverty as a lack of material things like money, food, or housing, our first instinct is to give those things to people who are poor. While that response is sometimes necessary, it typically addresses only the symptoms of poverty—not the underlying causes. In the long run, handouts can actually create dependency and exacerbate the sense of shame that often accompanies poverty.
We need a different framework for our poverty alleviation efforts if we want to help the materially poor without hurting them.
Here are three key things to remember:
1) We are all “poor” in some way. This principle is rooted in the grand drama of Scripture: God created a perfect world, but the fall marred our relationships with God, ourselves, others,…Continue Reading