What we think about the poor and how we meet their needs makes a huge difference in their ability to work themselves out of poverty and see them succeed. Conversely, if what we give them isn’t meeting their real needs, our help goes unappreciated and is ineffective at helping them.
Below are the top three needs I hear and see as I visit some of the poorest people on the planet.
- Lasting Relationships – Friendships are hard to come by when you live in extreme poverty. When your luck is down, and your family is hungry, it is a permanent self-isolating state. Your close friends might think you have become cursed, so they don’t want to be around you. Relatives don’t visit because they know you have nothing, and they might feel obligated to help when they too are struggling to survive.
However, having friends to discuss life’s challenges is so important. The poor need people to believe in them and help them rise above their current situation.
- Opportunities – Learning and growing new skills is a problem for the poor. Most have not gone to school and cannot read well, making learning from books difficult. Classes about running their businesses are not available to them, and no one will loan them money at a reasonable rate. Those living in extreme poverty want to learn to do their jobs better. They can work hard but often can’t afford to do the things that will really make a difference, even if they know what those things are.
- Salvation – Deep down, the hole in a person’s heart speaks to them frequently. The poor have the added (erroneous) sense that they have failed God because of their status. Coming to faith for the extreme poor is a huge relief as the burden of sin is lifted and hope for a better life and a secure eternity are realized.
At Bright Hope, we believe our strategy of building into local, in-country churches in the world’s poorest communities is the best way to meet these top needs and many more. We have over 50 years of experience and success at raising families from the depths of poverty to becoming contributing members of their church and community.
This Christmas, you can be the one who gives someone the opportunity they’ve been desperately waiting for to rise from the clutches of poverty. So please give generously and pray fervently for the poor.