Oct 8, 2012

What is Poverty?

My cousin Tara Wawelo worked years in Africa, particularly Uganda. She is married to Ivan Wawelo, who was born and raised in Uganda, and was even one of Compassion International's sponsor children. Their recent transition into the United States has been difficult, but full of wonderfully profound insights about American culture. Ivan, especially, offers a really valuable contrasting perspective to the common American worldview.

"Why are there so many missionaries to the poor in Uganda?" he asks. "We need more missionaries to the rich!”

That is not the typical call for missions in Africa. Ivan continues, “So many Americans come back from Africa and say ‘The African believers really challenged me. They have so little and yet they have so much faith.’ Why? Does that mean if those Americans had nothing, they would lose their faith in God? Is faith in God dependent on material possessions?. . . God is still God, whether we are rich or poor.” Social justice is important. Serving the poor and widows is the calling of the Church. But do the Church and mission agencies need to reform their approach to the subject? 

So what is poverty? It is an elusive concept. There is relative poverty and absolute poverty. Relative poverty means you are poor compared to those who live next to you. Absolute poverty means you don’t have food to eat or water to drink and your life is actually in danger. To put this in perspective, to be considered impoverished by U.S. standards, you are still richer than 85% of the world’s population. (Tara Wawelo) 

I encourage you to read the rest of Tara's recent blog, "Poverty?"

Ivan and Tara, thank you


Tara said...

:) your welcome!

Kimberlyann DeAngelo said...

Appreciate that you are raising awareness to "perspective"
Of poverty, what we need to understand about the difference of
poverties and our our own possible poverty, that we may know who
and how to better serve.

Thank you.
Kimberlyann DeAngelo