“Blessed is he who considers the poor.” – Psalm 40:17
Wills Point, Texas – GFA (Gospel for Asia) – Discussing the scandals of poverty.
Nearly everything about poverty is scandalous. The United Nations Millennium Goals include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Faith-based organizations and other NGO’s, major businesses, and UN member states have been actively working to achieve that lofty goal.
Gospel for Asia and Believers Eastern Church ministries are highly focused on working among the poor and to help alleviate the scandals of poverty. Because our ministries are Biblically-based, we know that the eradication of poverty will never completely happen until Jesus comes back to rule and reign.
The Scandal of Delusion
Poverty itself is a condition. However, the Bible never teaches that poverty is scandalous. Many people expected that Jesus would establish His Kingdom and eradicate all kinds of oppression, including poverty. Those who heard Him identify Himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy may have particularly believed that He would eradicate poverty.[i] They misunderstood. In fact, days before he was crucified, Jesus told his disciples that we will always have the poor with us.[ii]
When the world sets a goal to eradicate poverty, people operate under the delusion that the goal can actually be accomplished. In fact, the cause of eradicating poverty is so popular that the War on Poverty declared by former President Lyndon Johnson easily garnered national support. The people failed to realize that the War on Poverty was a wolf in sheep’s clothing – a scheme for delivering votes by expanding welfare handouts and legislation.[iii] Fifty years following the implementation of the War on Poverty, the number of Americans living in poverty had risen from 33 million to 46.5 million.[iv]
The sandal of delusion is that people think that poverty can be eradicated. If we are to trust what the Bible says – and we must trust all of it if we trust any of it – then we must accept the fact that poverty will never be eradicated, at least no by human efforts.
That doesn’t mean that we should be unconcerned or untouched by the infirmities caused by poverty.
The Scandal of Oppression and Injustice
“Thou shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy.”[v]
Palmer Holt of InChrist Communications recently authored a special report, “Seeking Justice and Defending Human Right Wherever Poverty and Oppression Exist,” published on the Gospel for Asia and Missions Box websites.
Beginning with George Orwell’s quote from Animal Farm that “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others,” Holt explores an “extreme continuum of injustices . . . [including] social prejudice, gender discrimination, lack of education, and more.”
On the one hand, oppression of the poor is a deliberate expression of the those who possess wealth and use it as a tool of subjugation. While injustice may be perceived as similar, if not identical, to oppression, injustice also arises naturally out of the condition of abject poverty itself. The scandal of poverty is, in part, that poverty itself contributes to the injustice of a poverty-stricken life. Poverty for many can be a labyrinth from which there is no escape, robbing poor children of health, education, and hope for a future outside of servitude.
It is a scandal when a nation’s economic advances contribute significantly to its GDP while providing little, if any, benefit for those at the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy. This is especially true in the present era where technology has replaced the industry society that provided jobs for many and had previously replaced an agrarian society where nearly everyone worked. The ability to gain the in-demand technological skills is further out of reach for those live in poverty. This is not an intentionally imposed social injustice. This is the nature of the beast.
The Scandal of Indifference
Scripture indicts the scandal of indifference for those caught in poverty when we who have material possessions do nothing to help those in need.[vi]
While the Bible does not direct us to attempt to eradicate poverty, it clearly instructs followers of Jesus how to address the scandal of poverty. We cannot sit idly by. The Scripture is quite clear that we have God-given obligations concerning the poor. He expects us to minister to “the least of these.”
As far back as the Levitical laws of the Old Testament, the Lord direct Israeli farmers to not reap the edges of their fields or to retrieve the grapes that had fallen after harvest. These were to be left for the poor and the foreigner.[vii] The inference is that there will be poor people who need the grain and the grapes for their survival. Solomon added that those who share their food with the poor will be blessed.[viii] By the same token, Paul instructed Timothy to teach Christians to be “ready to give and willing to share.”[ix] Isaiah clearly taught that if we spend ourselves helping the hungry and trying to satisfy the needs of the oppressed, out light will shine in the darkness.[x] This seems to parallel letting our lights shine so that men will see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.[xi]
Overcoming the Scandals of Poverty & Our Indifference
Millions of families across South Asia are stuck in the cycle of poverty. Often without easy access to education, medical care or even reliable employment, these families have little hope for the future. This suffering isn’t just relegated to one family but exists for entire communities.
Gospel for Asia is already serving in many of these poor areas, identifying specific needs and blessing families with items that help them fight the burden of poverty. Investing in these families makes community growth and development possible.
GFA’s founder, Dr. KP Yohannan, has spent nearly 40 years pleading the case for the poor, the forsaken, and the unreached in South Asia. He has labored long and diligently to provide for “the least of these.” His vision from the Lord has always inspired the work of GFA and has been evidenced by his leadership that emphasizes the way Jesus sees the scandal of poverty.
“The ability to love like Jesus loves puts all our human relationships on a higher level: We can love freely, even if we are not loved back.”
“God is desperately concerned about the poor and suffering and even more so the helpless and vulnerable. When you look at the times God was angry in the Old Testament, it was often because people were neglecting or oppressing the poor and helpless. Helping those who are vulnerable and in need is not a burden or an obligation, but an opportunity to be like Christ.”
“What about us? Do we have this kind of care in our hearts for those who have lost everything due to poverty or some social injustice? Are we willing to make our own abundance available to those who are poor and strangers? Or are we focused mainly on our own world and the things that affect us directly? Can we see these struggling people as God sees them? Can we recognize they are people He made in His own image, just like He made us, our husbands, our wives, our children?”
“We believe that, as people created in the image of God, everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and honor. In helping people improve their working and living situations, we are able to demonstrate practically God’s love and care for them and their families”.
“So, the choice we make in dying daily is not between right or wrong. The choice is between my rights and a new way—Christ’s way.”
GFA’s ministry among the poverty-stricken people of South Asia goes far beyond social work. Our work is in providing life-improving tools that are tangible examples of Christ’s love, ministering to individuals, families, and communities according to their needs, just as He ministers to ours.
How You Can Help
As we pray for the needs of others, our focus shifts away from ourselves. The more we continue in prayer, the more we see others and their needs through the eyes of Christ. GFA’s first Core Value is knowing the Lord Jesus more fully and intimately. Prayer helps us to do that.
Consider joining with us as a part of our Prayer Team. The foundation of GFA’s ministry is prayer. We know nothing is accomplished without prayer, and therefore, we give it a place of priority. GFA-supported missionaries and GFA staff around the world pray consistently and with great fervor for those who have yet to comprehend the depth of God’s love and grace. Click this link to see some of our primary needs for prayer, or sign up here to receive prayer requests by email
A friend of Gospel for Asia recently observed that “Wherever we go, we will always have an opportunity to help somebody who needs help. The challenge is whether we are sensitive enough to reach out to them to help . . . Thank you, GFA, for being God’s arms and feet in this world where there will always be poor people.”
Click this link to learn some of the ways available to you to help us minister to the poor to meet their physical and spiritual needs.
We invite you to join us in the opportunity to minister to those in poverty who desperately need help in Asia.
- Gospel for Asia, Seeking Justice and Defending Human Rights Wherever Poverty and Oppression Exist
- World Vision, What does the Bible say about poverty?
- Compassion International, What the Bible Says About Poverty
- Bible Reasons, Poverty
- The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, 5 facts about the ‘war on poverty’
- The Heritage Foundation, The War on Poverty After 50 Years