Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (Perspectives) is a fifteen week course about the global purpose of Christians, designed around four vantage points or “perspectives” – Biblical, Historical, Cultural and Strategic. The course has the objective of opening the eyes of Christians to the vision that God has a “world-size” role for every believer in His global mission. The point of this course is to simply show practical examples of how missions can be done wisely and well, against the background that God will fulfill His promises.
Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:3).
I have embarked on the Independent Study Online format of the Perspectives study program and will periodically share a perspective on different lessons.
Lesson 12 – Christian Community Development. In this lesson I exposed a world of human need and different approaches to meeting human need.
Addressing Poverty: Poverty is a lack of basic necessity. There is a connection between unreached people and poverty. Missionaries have found that many unreached people live in poverty and therefore poverty must be explored and solution considered. Bryant Myers (author in Perspectives on World Christian Movement) posits that it may be misleading to believe that poverty can be eradicated by pure economic means. He presents poverty in terms of three problems or causes: Broken Relationships, Misuse of Power and Fear, then provide biblical solutions.
Broken Relationships – Myers posits that this kind of poverty involves being excluded. We make people poor when we label them as the other, the outsider, the outcast. He explains that we begin the process of exclusion when we say people are lazy, dirty, uneducated, crazy or unsafe to be around. When we withdraw from some person because they may look different or be homosexual or having some illness we impoverish them and ourselves. Labeling and stereotyping devalues God’s people. This is sin and the consequences of sin are relational. Adam and eve had to leave garden and a very intimate relationship with God due to sin. Solution – The Bible address this because the Bible is primarily about relationships; Between God and man as well as between man. He explains that the ten commandments in Exodus 20 frame relationships; the first four between God and man, while the other six between man. In the New Testament Jesus in the only two statements that He commanded were relational. Mark 12:30-31 to love the Lord and your neighbor. The encouragement here is that if we use God’s instruction/commands to take care of our relationships then less people will be broken and poverty will be reduced.
Misuse of Power – Myers posits that when those who have power over others use it to benefit themselves, poverty results. He further explains that people in power are often temped to use their power for person advantage, ignoring the consequences of their action on others who have less power. Politicians, managers, pastors and even family members can misuse the power they have over the people they should be protecting. Myers then makes the uncomfortable point that this means that many of us are part of the reason of poverty. Solution – The Bible addresses by encouraging us to challenge the poverty-creating nature of power demands the transformational power of the gospel. A text in support is Romans 12:2 –“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” It is about personal and social sins.
Fear – Myers posits that a person is poor when they are afraid. Especially when they are fearful of the person who have influence over their future and wellbeing. Some fear the physical world, things and person they can see while other fear the unseen world of demons, spirits and ancestors. Fear of any source is disabling and can lead to poverty. Solution – The Bible addresses this in the gospel of Mark that teaches that fear is the opposite of faith. Also 2 Timothy 1:7 says that God didnt give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. Fear then is a spiritual problem. It can be dispelled only by faith in the son of God, who is more powerful than any source of fear.
The word of God contains hope that can someday see some who are poor now living better lives.
– Garfield Miller, Missionary Society (Jamaica)