Overcoming Poverty

We’ve all seen them, awful pictures of little children with emaciated bodies, video scenes of long lines of desperate parents seeking help for the children they love at some overrun clinic in some desolate, fly-infested area of Africa or Asia. It breaks our hearts. We all wish that something could be done to “fix” this problem and stop the suffering. We feel helpless against such overwhelming need. Is there anything that can be done? Does the Church of Jesus Christ really have the solution to this problem?

This Month's Articles

Poverty, Getting to the Heart of the Matter Editorial

Poverty, Getting to the Heart of the Matter

We’ve all seen them, awful pictures of little children with emaciated bodies, video scenes of long lines of desperate parents seeking help for the children they love at some overrun clinic in some desolate, fly-infested area of Africa or Asia. It breaks our hearts. We all wish that something could be done to “fix” this problem and stop the suffering. We feel helpless against such overwhelming need. Is there anything that can be done? Does the Church of Jesus Christ really have the solution to this problem?

Tags: poverty

A Hand Up Not a Handout Feature

A Hand Up Not a Handout

Why Enterprise and Business Are Changing Our Approach to Poverty Alleviation

In the decade following the collapse of communism, churches operating in post-Soviet Ukraine could once again practice their faith openly and freely. Yet they faced great need: With the economy in shambles, laypeople struggled to find work and provide for their families. Some churches in the United States stepped forward to meet the needs of their Ukrainian brothers and sisters and rebuild their church communities, but they quickly came to realize that good intentions don’t always translate to sustainable results.

Tags: poverty

Microfinance Feature


A Look at the Technique as an Effective Strategy for Poverty Alleviation

Hope in the slums In the slums of several cities in Western India, the financially poor are gathering to save. In groups of 10 to 12, they come together to receive business training, contribute $2 a month to a joint savings account for productive investment or to meet family needs, and learn about the love of Christ.

Tags: business, business as mission, india, poverty

Spiritual Capital Feature

Spiritual Capital

How the Church Is Uniquely Equipped to Break the Poverty Cycle

"Please don’t send us money; it only creates division. But do send us business people who can create jobs for us, that we can build ourselves up.” The Eastern European Christian leaders at a 2004 conference in Bulgaria were unified in their call for the Western Church to send Christians skilled in business to bless their nations economically and spiritually.

Tags: business as mission, poverty

What Is the Problem Feature

What Is the Problem

At the end of World War II, the Allies established the World Bank to finance the rebuilding of war-torn Europe. The World Bank’s efforts were remarkably successful, and the European economies experienced the fastest growth in their history. Given this success, the World Bank tried a similar approach to assisting low-income countries: lending them money on generous terms to promote economic growth and poverty reduction. The results were less than stellar. Pouring in capital had worked to rebuild countries like France, but it did little to help in places like India. On the surface the problems in both places looked the same— poverty and starvation, refugees, lack of infrastructure, inadequate social services, and anemic economies—but something was different about the Majority World.

Tags: poverty

Poverty Is a Lie Feature

Poverty Is a Lie

Compassion President Dr. Wess Stafford offers a view of poverty that has some similarities to those described above. Stafford describes the marred identity and disempowerment as being caused by false messages. He stresses that these false messages have their greatest impact during childhood. At its very core, poverty is a mindset that goes far beyond the tragic circumstances. It is the cruel, destructive message that gets whispered into the ears of millions by the enemy Satan himself: “Give up! You don’t matter. Nobody cares about you. Look around you: Things are terrible. Always have been, always will be. Think back. Your grandfather was a failure. Your parents couldn’t protect or take care of you. Now it’s your turn. You, too, will fail. So just give up!”

Tags: poverty

Will the Poor Always Be with Us? Feature

Will the Poor Always Be with Us?

To excuse neglect of the poor, Christians sometimes remind us of Jesus’ words, “The poor will always be with you” (Mt 26:11). Did Jesus say this? Yes. Does it mean what it appears to mean? Not really. So what does this troubling phrase mean?

Tags: poverty

Turning Wine into Clean Water? Feature

Turning Wine into Clean Water?

An invitation to Explore the Possibilities

Church Planting Movements are changing the spiritual landscape among many poor populations. The intention for such movements to be self-funding through bivocational leadership suggests a natural synergy with “Business For Transformation” (B4T). Could Church Planting Movements be peculiarly suited for synergy with business models for delivering clean water to the poor?

Tags: church planting, water purification

Poverty, Process and Progress Marginalia

Poverty, Process and Progress

The "Arab Spring" that has recently taken over the headlines brings one question to my mind: should a Western construct called democracy be planted in a non-Western culture, where the prerequisites of that construct (the thought development, experimentation, etc.) are absent? Western democracy developed over centuries and was a torturous, never-guaranteed process that led, step by step, to a certain formation of rights and privileges called "democracy." Can we really bypass that process and yet expect the end result to happen? What kind of democracy is really being birthed in these countries?

Tags: democracy, poverty

The Genius of Wrong Other

The Genius of Wrong

Building the Right Church Depends on Using All the Wrong People

I was sitting at a table with an old friend who leads a large and thriving church. “We try to make everything easy for the members of our church,” he said to me. “We encourage them to get to know people in our community, whether in their neighborhood or office or anywhere else. Then all they have to do is invite those people to church. At church, those people will hear relevant, gifted communicators in a warm, attractive, and appealing environment where their children can be a part of top-of-the-line programs.” He concluded, “If our members will just invite their friends to the environment we create, then we can take care of the rest.” Then he asked me what we do at Brook Hills.


Projecting Poverty Where It Doesn’t Exist Other

Projecting Poverty Where It Doesn’t Exist

I have been in relationship with the Waodani since 1956, when they killed my dad Nate and four of his friends. My relationship continued through the time my aunt Rachel lived with them beginning in 1958 through her death in 1994. I most recently lived with the Waodani beginning just after Aunt Rachel’s death in 1994 until later in 1997, maintaining a house and spending about one quarter of my time with them until 2008. When people visit the Waodani, they look around and think, “Wow, these people have nothing!” People from the outside think the Waodani are poor because they don’t have three-bedroom ramblers with wall-to-wall carpeting, double garages so full of stuff the cars never fit and, I guess, because they never take vacations to exotic places like Disney World. So, on speaking tours I began describing these jungle dwellers as “People who all have water front property, multiple houses and spend most of their time hunting and fishing.” The most common response I have gotten when describing the Waodani this way is, “Wow, would I ever like to live like that!” I agree completely.

Tags: poverty, short-term mission

Celebrating 10 Years of Insight Other

Celebrating 10 Years of Insight

What has God done?

“I had no idea what I had here,” related Mariah, Insight class of 2004. “It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized it, and I wished I would have taken more advantage of the time.” Mariah was speaking in terms of transformative knowledge and community, both common themes reflected upon by former students at the recent 10-year celebration of Insight’s existence and impact. Insight, the U.S. Center for World Mission’s one-year college level academic program, aims to “prepare future Christian leaders through an intensive study of God’s purposes throughout world history” (Insight promotional materials). It accomplishes this through an integrated, multi-disciplinary study that spans history, social-sciences, philosophy, literature, science, theology, biblical study, and missiology. The four chronological modules are largely based around independent study and reflection followed by a focused peer-facilitated discussion, thereby creating a unique and dynamic learning environment. Students also benefit from occasional guest lecturers and content-related field trips.

Tags: mission, student

Resources May be Closer than You Think Raising Local Resources

Resources May be Closer than You Think

An ancient Shakespeare play has a line which says, “But, where is the money?” As you will see from what follows, I believe the resources to help those in need are often closer to the need than we often think. One of those nearby resources is something which is being called Savings and Credit Associations (SCAs) or Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs). Many people are convinced that micro-loan projects are a quick and efficient way to help people out of poverty. But micro-enterprise projects are often launched with a significant amount of outside funding provided by the micro-lending institution. Admittedly, some of these have had significant success, while others have not done well for a variety of reasons. One of the main problems is the perception that the funds being borrowed come from somewhere far away; and if they are not repaid, there are probably more funds where those came from. I learned in Uganda recently about a micro-finance project that went out of business for exactly that reason. People borrowed “someone else’s” money and felt little or no obligation to repay it. Thankfully, that failed micro-loan program was replaced by what they call a “village savings and loan association” which now has a record of near one hundred percent repayment.

Tags: donate, poverty, support raising

Empowering our Evangelism Further Reflections

Empowering our Evangelism

Discussing the poor is one of those subjects that makes us uncomfortable. Perhaps it is because we feel, at some level, it is their fault¬–they brought it on themselves. I’m sure it is true sometimes. People make bad decisions every day, and we’ve all heard the stories of those who had great jobs, a home with a family, only to lose it all for some reason. Another reason we don’t like to think about it much might be that we really don’t want to get a burden for the poor or we might have to do something about it! It could rattle our comfort zone. And after all, we are involved in missions, and that is our way of reaching out.

Tags: evangelism, mission