By Ben Adkins
I know people who are poor as a result of bad life choices, laziness, lack of education, and living in sin. I also know poor people all around the world who are Godly, hardworking, intelligent disciple-makers who love the Lord with all of their being and lead others to do the same. So…what’s the difference between these two and how can both be afflicted by the trap of poverty?
Poverty is such an intricate issue with such a simple, yet complex answer. The ‘what’ part of the answer is very simple, but the ‘how’ part of that same answer is very complex. Despite the complexities of the issue or the answer, the good news is that both individuals and nations can escape the oppressive trap of poverty, and many are doing just that.
For me to tell you that I can provide you the complex answer to poverty within this newsletter would be arrogant and foolish. I can share with you a fraction of my limited life experience with poverty and pray that God leads you to do something about it yourself.
This article’s focus will not be to load you down with facts and figures that you can find in many different places, but to give you a glimpse into the real human impact of those numbers.
We believe that the Gospel is God’s total answer to man’s total need. So, why does poverty still exist? That brings us to the ‘how’ of the Gospel’s answer for this problem.
There are really two ways to look at the solution: one is through direct, relational, discipleship-based ministry to individuals who live every day in poverty. The other is to look at the economic systems, governmental systems, and collective values and freedoms that produce wealth or poverty for nations. The individual ministry aspect should be the very thing that influences the systematic aspect. It really does begin with the individual response to God’s good news and His way of life.
I have a good friend in West Africa who watched his own daughter die in his arms from starvation. She starved to death…let that sink in for a minute. Can you imagine holding your child during her last breath because of not having enough food? This man is not lazy, not ignorant, not immoral. He is a Godly man who lives his whole life for the Lord and has dedicated his family and life to serving King Jesus.
How could this happen? Through no fault of his own, my friend was living through the second of his nation’s bloody civil wars that lasted eleven years combined. During this same time, he was also caring for a group of Christians who had nowhere else to turn. An unstable government driven by power and greed forced a wartime economic system that was unbearable. No food, no safety, no shelter—just literally running for your life and trying to find enough food for your family to survive.
Today, my friend is not bitter, but full of joy and, with the biggest smile
on his face, grateful for the time he had with his daughter. He is grateful to God for providing enough for the rest of his family to survive. Today, with a heart abandoned, he leads people into deep knowledge of our Lord and a closer walk with Him.
There are many places on earth where people just survive—but don’t thrive. Many of these people live under the heavy oppression of poverty brought on by failed models of government, failed economic systems, and nations driven by a worldview that doesn’t match up with reality or the design by which God has created them to live.
This is why the Gospel is called good news. Through the power of the Gospel being lived out, people and nations can be transformed as they draw closer to the way they were meant to live. Even nations that don’t embrace a Biblical worldview, but employ Biblical principles in their economic systems, live better (at least in terms of economics) than nations who don’t.
The answer is found in the Gospel not just being known, but being lived. That truth is the same for you, for me, and for the poorest person on planet Earth.
At One Kingdom, we are dedicated to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the whole world in their language and walking with people as they grow to understand what the Gospel means to their daily life, in the market, at home, and in their heart. During disasters or situations that are outside the control of anyone, we will offer help where God has raised up people in His kingdom to carry out that work. We work through local Christians so that the glory goes to God, and the local Christians are the face of the relief that comes in times of great need. This is followed up with relationships that matter for now and for eternity.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” —Luke 4:18-19 NIV
It is time for people who live in poverty to be set free.