This issue takes a closer look at extreme poverty and examines the problems as well as potential worldwide solutions. Extreme poverty is a state of life for many that warrants significant concern, but this issue looks at ways to address that poverty globally that could potentially make it a thing of the past. You may be challenged to rethink some of your own ideas about poverty, foreign aid and financial assistance as you delve into this issue about what works and what doesn’t. Could we see the end of extreme poverty in our lifetime? Our January-February 2019 issue addresses that hopeful possibility. See all the articles
Is there any hope of eliminating extreme poverty in our world? Trillions of dollars have been spent in the U.S. and around the world to eliminate poverty and yet poverty in Africa is still a tenacious reality. After spending $15 trillion on the “War on Poverty” starting in 1964, the poverty rate in the U.S. has only decreased by four tenths of one percent to 10.1% today. At first glance it seems hopeless, but there is now abundant evidence for what works and what does not in overcoming poverty. In this issue we will reveal to you what works in defeating poverty.
Just two hundred years ago, almost the entire world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Today, less than 10 percent do. In the past forty years alone, the percent of people living in extreme poverty has dropped by over 30 percentage points.
The cultural path from widespread poverty to widespread prosperity is like that route up Mount Everest. For centuries, most people lived in subsistence poverty, near sea level on the upward path to wealth creation. In the last two centuries, however, more and more cultures have climbed that path from the low-lying flatlands and hills, to the base camps and up to the summit.
Two years from now, in 2021, Niran, his wife and his five children in a rural southwestern Nigerian community will bow together in family worship without aching, empty stomachs. They will give money at church, dream about a college education for one of their children, and most of all, transcend a subsistence lifestyle for the first time ever. Here’s how this could become reality…
Access to capital can unlock the enterprising potential inherent within every individual. Capital empowers men and women in poverty, allowing them to improve their bargaining power and leverage, which can lead to lower costs, higher productivity and an improved standard of living. According to Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, “Capital is the force that raises the productivity of labor and creates the wealth of nations. … It is the foundation of progress and the one thing that poor countries cannot seem to produce for themselves, no matter how eagerly their people engage in all the other activities that characterize a capitalist economy.”
Beginnings In 2001, a typhoon ripped through Metro Manila. When the winds died down, I drove down Roxas Boulevard. I watched as scores of street people meandered along the bayside in bare feet, picking up recyclable trash. They lived in holes dug into the barrier walls of Manila Bay. I learned that the storm surge that breached the wall had flushed them out like mice from their dugouts. Later in my car, I broke down and cried. This is not how God intended it to be, I thought. Didn’t the Bible say that God made man a little lower than angels? I struggled to understand it all.
Around one billion people live on less than $1.25 per day. Two billion people do not have access to a safe place to save and borrow money. And over three billion men, women and children have not heard the gospel. Many people living in the trenches of poverty have shared that food is unreliable and shelter is inadequate. That education is insufficient. That life can be isolating and scary.
On a late fall day in 2014, a group of 13 local Christian men and women gathered in South Asia to attempt something that never had been done before. Working together in teams of three and four, they accomplished the unthinkable: the translation of nearly half the New Testament in two weeks.
24:14? Who are you? We are not an organization. We are a coalition of like-minded individuals, practitioners and organizations who have made a commitment to a vision of seeing movements in every unreached people and place. Our initial goal is to see effective kingdom movement engagement in every unreached people and place by December 31, 2025. We do this based on four values:
“Accountability feels legalistic to me. I like a discipleship model that is more relational.” These words were spoken by a friend. I had just brought up the suggestion that we ask application questions at the end of our Bible study. Her concerns were valid and real. They were not new to me. Indeed for some, we almost have an aversion to anything that remotely smells like legalism or control. We may have had bad experiences with these things in our lives. Perhaps we’ve been wounded by controlling, authoritarian leadership. Or it may be that we come from an egalitarian worldview, where freedom of individual choice and tolerance are highly valued. That can also cause us to feel uncomfortable with regularly being asked about the application of God’s Word in our lives.
Our generation has forgotten a spiritual skill set of the New Testament generation. Like the decaying aqueducts and vine covered marble buildings for Europeans, the book of Acts reminds us that, spiritually, things were not always as they are today. Acts points toward a “golden age”of miraculous movements in which disciples exhibited a spiritual skill set of being led by the Spirit to fulfill the vision of Acts 1:8. When we read how God acted so powerfully in Acts, we often long that He might do such things again in our generation.
Years ago, when personal computers were just getting cheap enough for average Americans to have one on their desk, a few of the “computer geeks” set an alarm that would go off each hour and say: “maybe it’s time to pray!” There were some other “alerts” they set up which I won’t mention here, but now with smart phones and Apps, there are GREAT ways to remember to pray daily for the Unreached Peoples of the world. Here are four of them. Each of these tools allows you to pray “at a distance” with other believers around the globe.
Martin Luther said it well: “God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” A primary way God designed us to love our neighbors is for us to do our work well, and from our work to have the capacity to be generous to neighbors in need. When it comes to being a helpful neighbor, a slothful worker faces an uphill climb. On the other hand, the best workers make the best neighbors.