What role can religion realistically play in the eradication of poverty?
Rev. RICK REED is senior pastor at the Metropolitan Bible Church in Ottawa.
It’s staggering to know that over a billion people live in extreme poverty. This sad reality is the motivation behind a growing global movement to make poverty history.
Historically, Christians have been at the forefront of efforts to alleviate poverty—both locally and globally. I’ve been encouraged to see Christians in our city get involved in the fight against poverty in very personal and practical ways.
Many have committed to sponsor a child living in an impoverished family. With the help of agencies like Compassion International, we are able to provide a child with food, clothes and schooling for about a dollar a day.
Some churches have adopted an entire village, developing an ongoing relationship that allows for friendship and financial investment in the community. Over time, homes, schools, play yards and water wells are constructed as long-term relationships are formed.
On a local level, I know of several churches that cooperate to offer a welcoming place and a warm meal to needy folks who live in the downtown core of our city.
But eradicating poverty cannot be accomplished merely though the giving of food and finances. As Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone” (Matthew 4:4). The most crushing kind of poverty is one that starves the spirit, leaving a person famished for hope.
That’s why Christians seek to fight poverty in a holistic way. We are called to help feed both body and soul. So we bring bread to hungry people but also point them to Jesus, the one who is “the Bread of Life” (John 6:35). We drill wells but we also tell people about the “living water” that Jesus offers to every thirsty soul (John 7:37-38).
Christians are committed to helping in the fight against poverty—both the physical and spiritual kind.
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