Recent Posts from the Mumena Team

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Davis Missionary Journey: Understanding Poverty (Team Strategy 3)


One of the first "realities" to confront us in our team strategy formation was the poverty around us. Our feelings would vacillate between the extremes of despair, fatalism, and paternalism… sometimes all within a 24 hour period. As we sought to better understand poverty via the missiological tools of anthropology, sociology and psychology; it was actually our theological reflections that proved most helpful.
Missiology helps us to understand poverty as a complex web of broken relationships: with self, God, society, and the environment. Lack of education is complicated by lack of nutrition. Lack of social justice is complicated by unjust gods. Lack of self respect is complicated by the lack of understanding why Creator God made me… and on and on. Bryant L. Myers' book, "Walking With the Poor" has a great many insights on this subject.
Theology makes clear that the poor are whole living people, inseparably body, mind, and soul. The poor are embedded in families, communities, and social systems. And yes, the poor are sinners, but they are made in the image of God with gifts and the potential to become Kingdom-like. Theology teaches us that poverty is a result of relationships that do not work; are not just; are not for life; are not harmonious or enjoyable; but rather, are fragmented, dysfunctional, & oppressive. Thus without a strong theology of sin, comprehensive explanations for poverty are hard to come by as it is sin that distorts relationships. Sin is the root cause of deception, distortion, and domination. Poverty becomes intensely spiritual as the poor develop an identity of "worthlessness", an "I can do nothing" vocation, and - finally - a sense of "being" that indeed "I was meant to be poor".

"Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."
Proverbs 30:8-9 KJV


Our team strategy attempts to understand poverty as God sees poverty: understanding must proceed programming.


kaondeChild.jpg

Trying to look through God's glasses,
Brian, Sondra, Noah, & Bryson


Pictured: as the traditional Kaonde "way of life" disintegrates, new realities of poverty are confronting these precious people.


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