If I was to go into the streets of any city in the UK and ask people what the poor communities of the world needed, I guess I would get a whole range of answers.
Anything from money, food and housing, to jobs and democracy; and in one sense these answers are not wrong, we all know that there are a lot of people out there with a lot of need. But although these things would be a help, extreme poverty, would in most cases remain. This is because people are kept in extreme poverty by of a lack of Justice.
Corrupt leaders and politicians embezzle money that should be used to build a future for their people, businesses and banks exploit lands and people, taking from their resources, binding people up in debt and keeping the country’s economy locked up with impossible repayments for debts repaid many times over. Tribal leaders or male relatives confiscate land from widows, girls are raped and forced into prostitution and children are sold into slavery as bonded labour. Night after night children go to bed hungry, and thousands die daily of preventable diseases, yes preventable diseases.
If this doesn’t make you angry then there is something wrong! The injustice for the poor is staggering, but there is an answer.
Matthew 6:9-10 ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
God speaks about the poor and the issues of Justice more than 2000 times in the Bible. His Kingdom will bring that Justice on earth and He will expose the corruption, greed and misery we are currently seeing.
Luke 4:18-19 Jesus’ first sermon: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
So what was Jesus saying here? Well, he was saying, my mission is to tell the Good News of the Kingdom to the poor, but not only to tell them, but to show them and help them. This is what Jesus taught and modelled, yet for many Christians the plight of the poor is not even on the radar.
We have so much. We have wealth, healthcare and education, whilst others have nothing. If we sit on thousands in our bank accounts whilst children go hungry then there is something wrong. If we have a surplus what does Jesus ask us to do with it? We have to take action. If the Church rises up to give and to work together, we can do so much.
Imagine that tonight on the news it was reported that 100 aeroplanes had crashed, killing 26,500 people. Judging by the world’s reaction to recent disasters, there would be a huge outcry. Every paper and news station in the world would probably run the story. Suppose it happened the next day too, and then the next, and in fact every day it continued. I can tell you that changes would be made. Well everyday, yes every day, 26,500 children die of preventable diseases relating to their poverty.
1 John 3:17-18 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
Matthew 25:31-36 The Sheep and the Goats
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Jesus is coming back, and when he comes, He is going to judge the nations and separate us. What is he going to judge? He will judge our hearts. Did we get the message about the kingdom? About injustice and the poor? Or did we store up wealth for ourselves and ignore the call to the poor?
It is not my message it is His …..
Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
Luke 12:16-21 The Parable of the Rich Fool
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
Shine Relief Trust is working in Malawi to bring more than just aid to the poor. We will continue to feed and clothe the poor, but there is so much more we want to do. The poor need hope, and in Kuntumanje, hope is definitely rising. In the coming years we plan to start local businesses to regenerate the area, create employment and help build the Kingdom further.
We each have our own part to play in bringing Justice to the poor. We need to speak out against injustice. One.org is an organisation who is making a difference and l would urge you to join them in their campaign www.one.org
Who helped you? Not one of us can say we haven’t been helped somewhere along the way, either from parents, family or friends or from the state, who gave most of us our education. The poor just need us to give them opportunities.
If we were brought up in homes without water, if we had little food to eat and no opportunities, would we be where we are now? We hear people talking about “self made millionaires”, yet this is simply not true.
The poor are not lazy or stupid, in fact quite the opposite. They are hard working people who are clever and industrious. But when you work hard every day and still have nothing to show for it at the end, it is easy to eventually lose hope.
I am a big fan of Les Miserable; the west ends longest running show. The theme of the musical is set in the 1800’s in France where the distance between the rich and the poor has grown and revolution is in the air. The themes of Justice and poverty run throughout, but the last few lines really challenge me. As you read them, I hope that they will challenge you also.
Will you join us as we bring in God’s Kingdom and Justice for the poor?
Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.
For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.
They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
They will walk behind the plough-share,
They will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward.
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!
By Phil Irvin
Number of children in the world 2.2 billion
Number in poverty -1 billion (every second child)
Source -State of the World’s Children, 2005, UNICEF