At Compassion, we often refer to poverty as a liar. We’ve come to understand how the evil of poverty speaks into the lives of its victims, telling them that the cycle cannot be broken.
Poverty tells children not to dream. Dreams are for the rich. It tells their parents not to hope. Hope is for those with a future. It whispers to the sick, “You will never afford to be healthy.”
To the hungry, poverty growls in the pit of their stomachs, “You’ll never be full.” To the downtrodden, the forgotten, the abused and neglected, poverty boldly proclaims, “You don’t matter. That’s why you’re poor. Because you’re not important enough to survive.”
Sadly, millions have bought into the lie. We see it in sullen, desperate faces and hear it in tearful cries of anguish.
Yet poverty’s other lie is just as powerful.
Poverty also lies to us. Yes, us … some of the wealthiest people in the world. Through overwhelming statistics and dire images on the evening news, poverty tricks us into believing the problem is too big. It tells us that our arms can never reach around the globe to help the most vulnerable. It tells us that our efforts will always be too small. Meaningless.
For too long, we have listened to this lie. We believed without questioning. We accepted without debate or discussion.
It’s time to debate. It’s time to discuss.
It’s time to bring down this lie.
Because the truth is, we CAN make a difference. We DO make a difference. No, we ARE making a difference.
The truth is that the number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut in half in the last generation. In half! Our generation could very well bring that to zero — if we don’t buy into the lie.
Millions are surviving health threats that would’ve killed them just 10 years ago — malaria, diarrhea and other preventable illnesses. We’ve cut in half the number of children in the developing world who die before their 5th birthday. Lives are being changed.
And this should come as no surprise. That very truth was laid out for us in Isaiah 58. We’re told that if we “loose the chains of injustice”, if we spend ourselves “in behalf of the hungry” and “satisfy the needs of the oppressed,” our “light will rise in the darkness” and our “night will become like noonday.”
When the light comes on, the lies of the dark are exposed. Monsters are powerless. Poverty’s harrowing shadow cowers in fear.
Poverty’s other lie has been exposed.
The poor, the hurting, the neglected, the abused, the forgotten … they DO matter. And what we do to help is significant. It’s epic. It’s biblical. It’s Christ-like.
That’s the truth.