Thoughts on Poverty


Through the course of these past weeks, the topics of the poor and/or poverty have come up in several conversations and my understanding of the subject has expanded and shifted. There is no doubt more to poverty than meets the eye. Most often we think of poverty in terms of material lack. But is that all there is to this brokenness called poverty?

This past week at our Wednesday night gathering at “The House” (Kris, Jeudy and my house) with our  neighbors, Jeudy and Becca shared about their experience on short missions trips to Mexico. They touched on how through connecting with individuals in the communities they visited in Mexico, they saw incredible faith and intense joy in a place one might not expect; in lives gripped by the unyielding hand of material poverty. A place of beautiful reliance on God, when they had nothing else to rely on. Maybe Jesus know what He was talking about when He shared the beatitudes with us…

A second conversation about poverty occurred at our bi-weekly Community Fellows training where we  discussed a chapter out of the book, “When Helping Hurts,” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. (I would recommend this book to EVERYONE) The chapter was entitled “What’s the problem?” and included a whole new perspective and definition of poverty. A perspective shared from the material poor themselves. They shared about poverty primarily in terms of, “shame, inferiority, powerlessness,
humiliation, fear, hopelessness, depression, social isolation, and voicelessness.” This starkly contrasted my initial thoughts on poverty and the poor. For them it was less about the physical things they lacked and more about the mental and perspective repercussions of the material lack. This is a HUGE and necessary paradigm shift. I realized that for me, as long as poverty remained cornered in the physical realm, I could ignore the true relational poverty I was dwelling in.

“Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not
for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all
its meanings”
-Bryant L. Myers

Poverty can look just like me… or you.

Sin is the root, and inceptor of this prideful perspective I so often can have of myself.
I love being self-sufficient and okay--- ALL THE TIME. It is underneath that façade
of collectedness and self-sufficiency that my poverty is exposed. I am really good
at convincing myself I don’t need anybody. This is my brokenness and my struggle.
I was made for community with creation, others and myself, yet I make choices
every day that deepens and widens the chasm between myself and the shalom God
desires.

Thank God for my neighbors, the needs they have exposed in me, and the
opportunity to live in community with them.

I need them.

-Rob VerWys