My Personal War on Poverty

Yesterday marked the 50th Anniversary of LBJ’s declaration of War on Poverty.

Here is the news story in case you are interested in listening.

This anniversary can either stir debate and discord, or bring us to action.

I am pondering these questions:

What is my role in our country’s fight against poverty? What can I do differently? What can I do better? I am just one person, what difference can I make? What is the church’s role? There is a lot of talk about the problems of poverty in the US, but where is the action? What examples am I seeing in my community? in my church? Am I doing enough? Are we doing enough? What do the Scriptures say?

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’  Deut. 5:11

He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. 1 Sam 2:8

For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. Psalm 9:18

Blessed is the one who considers the poor!
In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land; Psalm 41:1,2

Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse. Prov. 28:7

Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor. Prov. 22:9

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, Luke 14:13

(These are only a few of many verses in both the Old and New Testament. In fact, Job is full and worth further study.)

While we stay in our warm houses, and drive around in our warm cars, we cannot forget that there are men, women and children in our country without food to eat and without warm homes to escape from the cold.

I found this article in the Huffington Post. There are a lot of misconceptions and judgements about those living in poverty. It is worth a read.

20 Things the Poor Really Do in the Huffington Post.

In our busy lives, it is easy to forget that we each are called to serve the poor.

It breaks my heart for me to admit to myself, that it is even easier for me to to ignore the faces of poverty. I look away. Or avoid eye contact using my smart phone as a distraction. I cross the street. Yikes!

I am compelled to speak out on behalf of this issue. To ask all of us to open our eyes and ears to the needs around us. To prayerfully consider how we might be an active part of the solution and not just engaged in talk about the problem.

I know one of the first things I have to do is reshape my misconceptions and alter my perspective on whom the poor in our society are and are not.

Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap. Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor. Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere. Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually stupid. Being poor is people surprised to discover you’re not actually lazy. Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap. Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn’t bought first.

Being poor is knowing where the shelter is. Being is poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so. Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor. Being poor is seeing how few options you have. Being poor is running in place. Being poor is people wondering why you didn’t leave.

Excerpted from “Being Poor” by John Scalzi.

 The following are some of the books I am reading. I debated about sharing these titles with you. First, I was afraid you would judge me by the titles and authors. Second, does reading about poverty and the church equal taking action?

 And, then I read this, “We believe that to do more, you have to know more – more of the truth.” (The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto)  And so I read.

 

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes us Just by Timothy Keller

Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most by Dr. Wess Stafford

The Rich and Rest of Us by Tavis Smiley

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

I want to know more, to understand, to see with new eyes so that my actions are Spirit-led, pure, and faith-filled.

I want to be faithful.

I want to be brave.  

I want my actions to be louder than my words.

Will you join me in learning more, knowing more? 

My aim here is raise awareness, to generate deeper thought and further discussion on the issues of poverty, and to explore my actions, or in many cases inactions, when it comes to serving the poor. I am trying to stay above the “political fray” and I ask that as you leave your comments, you do as well. Thanks.

purposed for service,

jana

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3 thoughts on “My Personal War on Poverty

  1. Thank you for writing about this topic Jana. I read so many posts and opinions that are negative about the poor. My mom was a single parent to 3 girls and some would argue that she could have just not had us but the reality is that she did. She was a college graduate and worked for the state. She could have worked a job that paid more but instead she worked a job that allowed flexibility in her schedule that she made times to have lunch with her children occasionally and go to our programs that would take place during the day. There were a lot of material items that we went without and there were even short periods of times without hot water or even lights but when I look back on my childhood I know that there was never a shortage of love. My mom even had periods of time that she would work an extra job. She wasn’t lazy, uneducated, or a bad person. She is quite the contrary. I often feel that it is just difficult for people to understand that situation because they have not experienced it. It is not that they are trying to be mean-spirited but they just don’t understand. I think that it is great that you are trying to learn more and get a better understanding of the situation that other people may find themselves in. Jana, I am thankful for you and the woman that you are and the example that you are to so many.

    • Love you, Wy. Thank you for sharing your story and for encouraging me to continue this journey. So many of my friends are seeking ways to help the poor outside of our country. My parents and grandparents have been missionaries to the poor in other countries. But, I can’t seem to get past the fact that there are so many poor in our country that need our attention and our help.I am desperately praying and trying to figure out how I can make an impact, no matter how small. Jana

      • Love you too, my Friend. You will find your direction on this. I believe in you. There are many outlets but you will have to find the one that is a good fit for you to be most effective. I know your prayerfulness will lead you down the right path.

I would love to hear from you!