What Is Poverty?

What is poverty?
Photo by Josh McKague of Whisper Productions

When you think of poverty what comes to your mind?  Do you think of a homeless man standing on the side of the interstate with tattered clothes and a “Will Work For Food” sign?  Maybe your mind goes to the images you see on TV of malnourished kids sitting in filth with flies buzzing around their heads.   In our culture, poverty can often seem a world away, even if it exists just down the road.

What if there is more to poverty than we realize?  Most of us think about, and would define poverty as “a lack of basic material possessions or resources” or something along those lines. However, if you were to ask someone in Kenya about poverty, they would likely talk about a lack of dignity, being helpless, and living in shame.   Poverty to them is as much about “who they are” as “what they have”.

For generations we have tried to “fix” poverty with money.  Poverty and the effects of poverty generally run deep, and the solution is not as easy as writing a check or sending more aid.  Poverty is a result of broken relationships, with God, with creation, and with each other.  The solution is reconciliation of those relationships, and that takes time, love, and ultimately the work of Jesus.

James

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