How should I talk about poverty?

    What is poverty? We all know it’s a big, ugly problem, but people define it many ways or point at different things as its cause or solution. Here are a few points to keep in mind about poverty as you share about Compassion.

    Poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life.

    The first thing we think about when it comes to poverty is money. And poverty is certainly a lack of money. But it’s more than just that. Poverty affects every area of a child’s life. Physically, a little boy might not have access to health care, leaving him vulnerable to disease. Cognitively, a little girl might not get the stimulation or nutrition she needs to thrive in school. Socially, a boy might grow up amidst unhealthy relationships and learn negative patterns for his own life. Emotionally, a girl might learn from her environment that she is worthless and she might as well give up.

    This is why Compassion’s programs are holistic. Because poverty goes beyond a lack of resources, we seek to address each of the areas of a child’s life affected by poverty.

    It’s a spiritual issue.

    Poverty goes beyond the material or circumstantial. The opening chapters of the Bible show a world in which everything is perfect, one God declares “very good.” God, humanity and the rest of creation lived in perfect harmony. It was a world in which poverty could not exist.

    Until the Fall. Where there was once harmony between God, humanity and creation, there was now discord. Where once the ground produced fruit in abundance, now man would toil to scrape out even a meager existence. Because of the Fall, all of humanity came under a curse. Whether war or corruption, floods or earthquakes, poor crop yields or economic collapse, every hardship we see or experience goes back to this curse.

    There’s an eternal solution to poverty.

    But there is good news: Jesus came to set people free from this curse. This doesn’t mean God promises health and wealth to His followers. The effects of sin and the curse remain at work in our fallen world. But it does mean that if poverty at its most basic level is a spiritual issue—the result of sin—then there is an eternal solution. There is a day when poverty will finally and fully end. A day when Jesus will return to bring about the new creation and wipe every tear from our eyes.

    This is the hope we look forward to. And this is the hope that has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children through Compassion’s ministry. When a child—or a mom or dad—finds new life in Jesus Christ, it changes everything. They move from hopelessness to hope. We’ve seen dads give up drinking and start taking care of their children. We’ve seen kids forsake gangs and begin tutoring other children. We’ve seen moms gain the self-esteem to change their family’s hopeless situation.

    To truly release children from poverty, we must care for their physical needs and we must share the only message that offers forgiveness and hope for the future.