Living in poverty has shifted how I think about ourselves & how we think about about those we serve. I believe we now serve people as friends that are experiencing hardships and no longer as strangers that are struggling, because that's what Jesus is teaching us.
"Jesus is way more faithful to me than i could ever be to Him!" - Che Burgess
People are struggling and it's time to change the narrative. The evidence of God being a blessing is not someone’s abundant finances, big house, dope ride and extensive wardrobe! We have to stop making people feel like being poor is a curse. We have to stop implying that they just need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps – some of us ain’t got boots. God is not withholding blessings from people who are living in poverty. In fact we are so consumed with consuming that we don't even understand that the absence of consuming is not a curse from God or an attack from the lawless one (satan). The Lord's blessings can't fit in our tiny boxes - so let's stop trying to stuff Him inside of them. We have to shift the narrative - people's souls are waiting for us to shift.
It is time for The Body of Christ to address poverty from sustainable measures one person/family/community at a time. We can’t continue to hand out meals but not do anything to address why people are poor. Are they employed? Are they underemployed? Are we addressing the residuals of that poverty like malnutrition, hopelessness, or doubt? We have to go beyond our traditions and customs and do the work Jesus taught us to do. The answer is not always as simple as giving a person living in poverty a job. I bet they already have a job. So often folks living poor are working more than 1 job, but the income from all streams is not enough. It's not as simple as giving them a bonus check at the end of the year. It's time to lean in real close to The Lord and document the blueprint as He reveals it us. This blueprint is the key to build the Kingdom of God on earth which must include walking alongside people who can't make ends meet.
Shout out to Foodshare for bi-weekly sharing food with vulnerable people in Hartford, CT!
I'd like to leave you with 7 things I have learned while living in poverty as a way to edify The Body of Christ. Let's continue to support and walk alongside others who are living in poverty in an intentional and informed way.
Food Banks are a quick fix for the week depending on the size of the family. In my experience living in the DC area there are some food banks that you can only participate in once a month. What happens next week? How can we better respond to food insecurity and malnutrition?
Food Stamps are an amazing opportunity to secure healthy foods for your household but lots of us that are living in poverty make just enough money to be over the poverty line based on the federal standards.
Hope can be hard to hold on to. Depending on where you live geographically, a person living in poverty can see and/or hear about communal trauma on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that can disrupt the hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
Sometimes poverty is all you know. There are so many people whose people (extended family) have lived in poverty for generations, they literally don't know anything else. So when we think about "blessing" someone who is living in poverty consider that your gift may not "fix" them or their situation. You need to be ok with the fact that your monetary gift may not do much to change their situation.
God's got us! No matter how much money we have or don't have in the bank God got us! "Jesus is way more faithful to me than i could ever be to Him!" - Che Burgess
We've adopted an even if posture like Hananiah (חֲנַנְיָה), "Yah (i.e., Yahweh) is gracious", Mishael (מִישָׁאֵל) aka Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Even if we never see a day without poverty we will serve God, we will worship God. We refuse to allow poverty to stop us from believing, praising, sacrificing, and seeking God!
Some poverty is situational. Some of us that are living in poverty are doing so because we were incarcerated, the person is in school full time, migrated to a new country, are experiencing medical trauma, they share most of their monetary wealth with others who are in far worse situations than they, may they have been left behind or abandoned by a spouse, or we are sacrificing monetary wealth for a greater purpose.
Real talk, I pray that we all be burdened and simultaneously fired up to do something good for folks that are struggling. I pray that we have enough humility hidden in our hearts and posture that we seek the Lord for how to respond to people who are struggling.
I pray that we abandon our own routines as we respond. I pray that we answer the call to care for people living in poverty in ways that shock ourselves. I pray that we be so wrecked by the gospel of Yeshua that we go above and beyond to respond to the needs of people that He most definitely cares about!
Be encouraged. Stay focused on the gospel.