By Les Henson.
The predicament of the poor is that they are exploited, oppressed and impoverished. They are deprived of the capacity to make choices for themselves: the choice of safe and clean water; the option of education; the choice of protection from abuse; the choice of medical care; and much more. This predicament results in the sense of hopelessness, despondency and despair, which in turn is internalised in their societal understanding of life and the world that they inhabit. Unfortunately, the church has often served the cause of the rich and powerful rather than that of the poor. Yet, God cares for and sides with the poor in their struggle for justice. Even when to church has abandoned them. The Bible makes it very clear that we as God’s people are called to work, struggle and fight against poverty and promote justice in all its forms. Indeed, it is not sufficient that the people of God benefit from God’s grace and mercy unless they extend the same benefits towards the poor and labour in their cause.
So, what can we do? I would suggest that our starting point is to study the scriptures and come to a clear understanding of the Bible’s teaching on issues of poverty and justice. In doing so, we should reflect upon how we can live out our calling to work for justice in our neighbourhood and the world we are called to engage. Secondly, we should get involved with a local organisation that seeks to serve the poor within our local community. In volunteering in this way, we must take on the role of a learner recognising that we have little to offer until we begin to understand the plight of the poor and establish meaningful friendships with them. Indeed, it is the poor themselves who must be our teachers and role models in our journey of becoming servants of and co-workers with the poor. Thirdly, we must speak out against injustice and the practices that promote poverty; the structure within society that perpetuates poverty; and the multinational corporations that exploit the poor. We must do so because the poor are rarely heard nor do they have a voice. There is much more that could be stated, but this is a starting point in becoming active and engaged with the poor and issues of poverty and injustice.