make poverty personal (6)

 

Make-Poverty-PersonalThe Christian response to poverty … can be varied. Using the analogy of “fishing,” consider that Jesus and the early church:

gave fish – as when they responded to direct needs through healing or feeding the hungry. Today we would call this “relief,” which could include responses such as feeding programs, emergency development, health care, prayer, providing accomodation, and visitation of those who are in jail or sick;

taught people how to fish – as when they taught truths for people such as Zacchaeus to put into practice. Today we would call this “education,” which could include responses such as job creation, preventive medical care, teaching literacy and numeracy, and vocational training;

asked why there was no fish – as Jesus did when he turned the tables upside-down in the temple, or the apostles did when they confronted rulers and crowds who were oppressing people. Today we would call this “protest and advocacy,” which could include addressing political systems, campaigning, and changing laws that create poverty and oppression. Advocating population control and secure land tenure, and fighting unjust economic structures could also be included here;

modeled a new way to fish – as Jesus did when he became human, forming an apostolic community living in solidarity, “fleshing out” good news with those in need. The apostles lived similarly, serving in weakness. This could be called “incarnational modeling,” which could responses such as Christians relocating to live among needy neighborhoods, the starting of neighborhood churches of the people, and life-on-life discipleship with those in need;

saw a new way to fish, owned by the people – as Jesus and the apostles did when they so empowered a local movement that it could live on without them being physically there. Today we would call this “transformation,” which could include neighborhood transformations, church planting movements of the poor, and grassroots Christian political cells.

Make Poverty Personal: Taking the Poor as Seriously as the Bible Does by Ash Barker (Baker Books, 2009); pp. 146-147

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