About Poverty

What Is Poverty?      Poverty in Victoria & Canada


Before you start, we want to thank and credit the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, Hope International, Food Banks of Canada, and the World Bank for supplying and inspiring a lot of the information you’ll find here.

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?

Did you know? Every day almost 16,000 children die from hunger related causes. That’s one child every five seconds.

Think this is just an international issue? While we might not have 12 children dying of hunger each minute in Victoria, 31.8% of BC Food Bank users are children and youth under the age of 18.


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.


Throughout scripture, God is shown as active in bringing about restoration and renewal for the poor and oppressed.

Isaiah 40:3-5 Maybe Isaiah isn’t talking about literal topography. Maybe the valleys are a metaphor for unjust suffering and poverty. Maybe the hills are a metaphor for those who exploit and oppress the poor. God’s kingdom is one of level ground. It’s an upside-down kingdom where the values of the world are spun on their head.

Psalm 113:4-9 God raises the poor up. He restores equality to all his children. Man, talk about level ground!

Psalm 146:6-8 God advocates for the rights of the oppressed. He feeds the hungry.

Isaiah 58 God has chosen his people to be heralds of restoration. He asks us to partner with Him to loose the chains of injustice, set the oppressed free, break yokes of slavery and exploitation, to share food with the hungry, to give shelter to those who wander in need, to clothe the naked. Talk about restoration.

Luke 4:16-21 Imagine the promise these words would have held for those in Jesus’ day suffering from poverty and oppression!

Throughout scripture, God is shown as having extreme compassion for the widows, orphans, poor, oppressed, and homeless. The raw truth is that poverty has NO PLACE in God’s kingdom. But we can partner with Him by restoring hope and wholeness to folks living in poverty.

Our Response is to be PARTNERS in God’s RESTORATION.

Many of us live in a way that limits our cross-class interaction. The people we spend most of our time with are people who belong to a similar social and economic class. This makes it all too easy to ignore or simply overlook the struggles of our neighbours in need. Your participation on this page shows an openness to hearing the cry of the poor! But God asks us to take steps beyond simply listening – he asks us to respond.

At the Mustard Seed, we want to respond by feeding the hungry, by empowering the oppressed, by fostering inclusive, socioeconomically diverse community, and by developing our community members’ human potential.

What does God require of us? Is it not to “share food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— to clothe the naked, and not to turn away from your [neighbours in need]?” Isaiah 58:7


Thanks for exploring issues of poverty and hunger with us.

Today we’ve explored issues of spiritual, relational, intellectual, and physical poverty. We’ve learned a bit about the roots of poverty. We’ve studied God’s heart for the poor. We’ve opened our eyes to poverty, hunger, and homelessness on global and local levels. We’ve realized that we can partner with God as He restores hope and wholeness to people living in poverty.

How can we actively respond to poverty in Greater Victoria? We don’t have all the answers. And like I said, we still have a lot of questions. But we’re working hard to love, feed, and care for our neighbours in need – and we’d love for you to be a part of it.

There are many ways for you to partner with us as we restore faith and fight hunger in Greater Victoria:

Our volunteers are behind the scenes, on the front lines, in the kitchen, or at the table eating with our community members. You can volunteer.

TAKE A TOURWe would love you to come on a tour and learn more. For one to 5 people, no reservation needed for individuals or groups under six. To learn more about upcoming tour dates, or to contact us about tours, click here.

DONATE NOWOur donors are our lifeline. We couldn’t feed, clothe, and care for Victoria’s hurting without them. We like to think of our donors as our partners. Make a real difference. Donate today.