Saturday, March 27, 2010


According to the Webster’s online dictionary, the ‘specialty’ definition of poverty is: a subjective and comparative term describing a lack of sufficient wealth (usually understood as capital, money, material goods, or resources especially natural resources) to live what is understood in a society as a "normal" life: for instance, to be capable of raising a healthy family, and especially educating children and participating in society. A person living in this condition of poverty is said to be poor. The meaning of "sufficient" varies widely across the different political and economic areas of the world.”

I think this definition goes hand in hand with what the majority of the world would consider true. To simplify the above statement one could say that a person living in extreme poverty would have no clothes, no food, no water, no shelter, no education and no health care.

I have seen people living in poverty. People without means to make ends meet. I have seen people in despair due to poverty. What surprised me though, is that there definitely are people, families, who seem to be happy in their meager surroundings. They tend to find joy in the midst of a basic existence. Children make toys out of tin cans. Women happily chat while fetching water. Children loved on by their siblings and parents. Food is being shared amongst neighbors. Although these people are poor according to the dictionary definition of poverty, they are rich in spirit. Those who may seem poor to us in the developed world may not seem poor to the people living on the other side of their village. Or maybe people are poor in the sense of lacking possessions but are rich because of their what they do have as a family – each other.

Honestly, I think poverty cannot only be defined in terms of material wealth. I think that people lacking wealth can at times have a richer life than those with an abundance of wealth. How is that possible? Poverty is relative. It has to do with what we as individuals value in life. It has to do with our priorities. But, in my opinion, it also has to do with our innermost needs. Of course, we all need food, water and shelter. But besides these basic needs there are other needs that need to be met. Needs that money cannot buy. Needs that so many people have to live without. Love. Recognition. Acceptance. Belonging. The absence of these needs make one poor. Maybe this should be referred to as more of an emotional or spiritual poverty. As Mother Teresa states: Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”

The first person that comes to mind as I write this is Joshua David; an eight-year-old boy living in the heart of Sierra Leone. He is a child who survived the grip of malnutrition at the age of one. He is a child who, in the past seven years, has had to live in multiple locations, with various caretakers and few possessions. He was placed in a Children’s Home over a year ago but to this day he lives without a sense of belonging. He has no family. He feels little love. Recently I heard from a reliable source that Joshua is unhappy and afraid. My heart breaks as I think about Joshua; he is a child very dear to my heart. A child who we tried to look after as best we could while in Sierra Leone. A child we had to let go of as we went separate paths. I so desperately want to see Joshua thrive and live life knowing there is a God who loves him deeply and wants the best for Him. It is not his lack of possessions that makes him poor; it is his lack of a family and acceptance. I only wish I could change that for him. This type of poverty is hard to beat. Lord, please hold Joshua in Your arms and provide everything He needs.

"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty." - Mother Teresa

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~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~