Wednesday, August 5, 2015

poverty's complexity

The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food,
but it is swept away through injustice.
Proverbs 13:23

Poverty is a complex social problem. I wouldn't begin to say that I know its roots or solutions. Though never wealthy by my own estimation (a poor person might say differently), I've never experienced prolonged hunger, homelessness, or social neglect personally. But as a member of America's middle class I have seen it somewhat from a comfortable distance. I have seen it in the inner city slum. I have known it visiting people in the shacks of rural poverty. It isn't pretty, and it drives other social problems such as crime, welfare dependence, disease, and educational inequities.

This proverb describes one of the more incidious contributors to a deep cycle of poverty: social injustice. It is when the impoverished do not have a level playing field because that opportunity is kept from them either deliberately or more likely because of apathy to their plight. This is most often seen today in any American city in a distance of a short drive of a few miles. Wealthy suburbanites have access to amenities, more housing than they need, more transportation than they need, disposable income, and best-in-class education. Meanwhile, urban homes (most of them single parent moms) struggle with inadequate housing, slim income potentials, and barely supplied educational resources. Kids growing up in this environment are constantly exposed to criminal activity. The mostly white suburbs overflow with conspicuous consumerism. The mainly minority urban core oozes with injustice and a poverty of truth, of faith, of economy, of family, and of hope that steals opportunity from bright potential every day. 

Christians know this, but for the most part, we don't act on it. Most church-planters target wealthy box-store suburbs more with marketing strategies than the hope of the gospel... because that what suburbanites like. And, I wonder if subconsciously, its also because that's where the money is... after all, a pastor has to support his family. Few, if any, seminarians head to the urban core to bring the gospel's light in the dim and grim world where injustice screams with every siren for the redemption Jesus brings. Why not? Why aren't we training more young people to care in this way? Why isn't the urban core our mission field at home? Right now I am filled with these questions... I'm not sure of the answers yet. I know that God loves ALL people, regardless of class, color, or location.

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