Outreach Outlook: Redefining Poverty
By Bethany Rushing (from the May 21, 2017 Adventurer)
The second “When Helping Hurts” small group completed our study recently, after exploring for six weeks how the Gospel invites us to think differently about poverty.
Most North Americans define poverty as a lack of resources, mostly material. The authors of “When Helping Hurts”, however, view poverty through the lens of broken relationships, using a description from Bryant L. Myers:
“Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, and that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings.”
When we think of poverty through this lens, it becomes clear that we, too, are the poor. We, those at Cathedral Church of the Advent, are dealing with the effects of the fall: broken relationships between ourselves and God, self, others, and creation.
The final session of this study has an amazing video where one of the authors, Brian Fikkert, wraps up with what he calls, “the most important thing.”
“We really believe that the first step that the North American church needs to take in effective ministry to the poor at home and abroad is repentance. Repentance of pride, repentance of a material understanding of the world and an embracing of the good news of Colossians 1 Jesus. [Recognizing] that I am broken and that you are broken, but Colossians 1 Jesus is bringing healing as far as the curse is found, and he can change the lives of poor people…including me.”
This framework for understanding poverty is critical if we have any hope of seeking to minister to the poor. If we don’t recognize our own poverty, we will be incapable of walking alongside the materially poor.
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:19-20
Stay tuned for more information on how to participate in our fall “When Helping Hurts” small group.