What Is Poverty?
WHAT IS POVERTY, ANYWAY?
If we live in a world made by an active, loving God, why is there poverty in the first place?
We were created to be in right relationship – with our God, ourselves, each other, the land, our community, and our surroundings – but many of these relationships aren’t right.
Each of us experiences what it’s like to fall short of the wholeness God designed for us.
According to Brent Meyers and Hope International, “Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings.”
Therefore fighting poverty is about RESTORATION. It’s about restoring brokenness by helping men, women, and children work towards physical, relational, and spiritual WHOLENESS – the wholeness that we were created to experience in the first place.
As a community partner, you stand with us as we fight poverty and restore hope and wholeness in Greater Victoria. You also stand with our city’s material poor – our neighbours in need – as you learn more about God’s heart for the marginalized.
Figures and statistics about material poverty are always changing, so keep in mind that these stats are approximate – but as accurate as we can find. Though in flux, the fact that these stats are always available illustrates a point: poverty is everywhere. Taking a look at these numbers can help paint a picture of the burden that our neighbours in need – both locally and globally – experience on a daily basis. It can remind us of the injustice at work behind economic disparity.
According to the World Bank Development Indicators in 2008:
50% of the world lives on less than $2.50/day.
80% lives on less than $10.00/day.
There is no shortage of stats that paint an unsettling picture of the world’s inequalities – and the burden suffered by those living in poverty. In fact, you’re going to be looking at a lot of stats as you keep scrolling. Take a minute to pause and let these numbers sink in. Remember that behind every statistic is a real, valuable, human life. Ask yourself: do these numbers represent God’s loving justice? Do they represent right relationships at work?
WHAT ARE THE ROOT CAUSES OF POVERTY?
This is a tough question – and one that we might never come to an agreed-upon consensus over. But what does the Bible say some of the root causes are? Where do you see these root causes at work in Victoria, in BC, or in Canada?
God identifies sources such as oppression, hedonism, usury, injustice, and addiction. But even those sources have their own roots! The holistic areas of brokenness we experience – physical, social, mental, and spiritual – work together to lead to physical poverty. For example, I might have an addiction because of my own relational and spiritual poverty. I may have experienced pain and trauma in my youth, which led to my current alcohol addiction, and now I’m trapped in a painful cycle of poverty and addiction.
Poverbs 22:7 Identifies general debt and high-interest rates (such as student loans) as sources of poverty.
Nehemiah 5:1-10 Identifies hunger, property expenses, slavery, and high interest rates as things that perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
Proverbs 13:23 Indentifies greed and a lack of wise distribution as sources for hunger and poverty.
Isaiah 10:1-2 Identifies how poverty is rooted in systemic and social issues that deprive rights to the poor.
Proverbs 21:17 Identifies addiction – which has its own complex roots – as a source of poverty.