05 Mar VIDEO: Poverty 101 – What’s working?
I feel like it’s half circumstance and half choice. You still have the ability to go out and go to school and go to work if that’s what you really want to do to pull yourself out of poverty. But as far as being born into it, that’s kind of out of our hands.
In my opinion, I don’t think it’s usually a choice. Big definitely can be.
I think it’s all about your will to work your determination.
Sometimes some people choose to stay in that life form and some people choose to seek help and seek the steps to getting out of it.
I think we need a lot of more people to lift people up and to walk with them through their situations, to get them out of poverty.
When you guys think about what you’ve seen working as far as addressing poverty, we’ve already talked about it, but how complex poverty is? What are you encouraged by? What do you see around you that’s working?
There’s a story that I share quite a bit about a young man. This happened in Atlanta. I work with quite a few youth in Atlanta and I’ll name his name because it’s a glorious story: Wally. Wally and is older brother, Osseo, they were raised by the grandmother and their parents were on drugs and were not in their lives. And Wally most would say was a crack baby. Hyperactive, and we had a member of outreach ministries going on. We had sports, soccer, basketball, and I remember Wally scoring for the opposing team and getting excited. And so he’s like, yeah, and his team, it’s just like, Wally, what are you doing? What are you doing? And so people just labeled him as a crack kid.
And over the years, they lived very close to the Braves stadium and we had to have mentors in their lives and they took them to their first baseball game. And then we had people that moved in the neighborhood to be a part of the ministry and they established relationship with Wally and osteo long story short after leaving Atlanta. And we established a church. And so we build relationship with the boys, a number of the kids, and their parents. So I heard say because we, my wife and I, moved away, we left Atlanta. And that’s why Tim, if you make this point earlier, that it takes multiple people to pour into one person’s life. They need mentors, right? One is great. But if you have a number of people to pour into their lives for over a long period of time, it will be better for their sustainability. So what was when we left, there were other families that were still there pouring into Wally and Osseo’s life.
And the family that moved into neighborhood approached the grandmother, when Wally was a 10th grader in high school. He’d gotten in trouble. He was expelled from school. He’s fighting. And they approach the grandmother because grandmother knew them, right. And they were white folk, not that that meant anything, but they were people that were different than Wally and his parents and his family rather. And they approached the grandmother say, we would like to help you support your grandson by allowing them to stay with us, stay with them, until he finished high school. And grandmother agreed, so from 10th grade to his to senior year, Wally stayed with them, live with him and straightened up his life. Brothers just started serving in the community. We started a ministry. He was a part of the afterschool program, received the scholarship to Lincoln university.
He graduated with a degree in history. And he’s now married with two kids. And I think he’s working on his master’s degree. He’s in the church, he’s in the Lord. He sends me text messages or calls me, that’s how I’m doing, and say, “Let me talk about the Pauline books, like what in the world? He wants to talk about theology. So he’s a kid who started out as a crack kid who is now teaching in the public school system in Georgia.
And that is a success story that God has blessed us with. It took more than just my wife and myself, but it was other families pouring into his life. He saw the love of Jesus and saw people really walking with them through the hard times. And the Lord just blessed him, gave him, he had an awesome ability. He’s an educator, right? Because God had just blessed him that way. And people came alongside to really help bring that out of him. So all that to say, that was a story. That’s a story that I will share from it from this day on, because God did some amazing work in this kid’s life.
I love that because there’s actually research supporting that that eight positive adult relationships in a kid’s life is what makes a difference in reducing risk factors for them. And I think we’ve tried to model that at Shepherd and are continuing to look at how do we create opportunities for relationship. I feel like that’s come up a lot as we’ve been talking just about. I think you said nothing happens outside of the context of relationship and multiple positive adult relationships in specifically in a kid’s life, but being able to surround them with a mentor, but families that are pouring into them, church family that’s pouring into them, just over a long period of time. Lots of people pouring into a person’s life, I think is makes a huge difference.
I think I’m probably most excited right now about sort of a macro movement when, when it comes to serving the poor. That is the stuff that’s coming out of. Like what Bob Lupton out of Atlanta is teaching in his book, Toxic Clarity, and the book When Helping Hurts, and people beginning to understand that whenever you do something for somebody that they can do for themselves, you hurt them. And if we do nothing else, but let that simple statement guide our ministry, I think we’re going to be more effective, but then when you really get into you, you can begin to see the opportunity that we have. And what I’m excited about is that there’s so many people out there who have things to bring to the table that they don’t consider traditional gifts, that I’m going to need to go help a poor kid.
You know, like some guy who maybe he’s a brilliant businessman, but he’s doesn’t have great interpersonal skills or something like that. It doesn’t mean a ministry like Shepherd or somewhere can can’t help them, or can’t use him and God can’t use his talents and giftedness. And I think really the movement towards understanding economics within the church, within Christian ministry, understanding that one of the greatest challenges that people in poverty have is that they are traditionally marginalized from full participation in the economic life of a community. And that we can bring together resources to empower them, to enter that economic life of the community. I mean, not just here but abroad. things like micro enterprise loaning and things like that, these are all empowering things to help people provide for themselves.
Loved it in his book, tells a great story about these yucca farmers in central America who were basically subsistence farmers. But growing more yucca than they could eat, but not being able to sell it. And an MBA, a young kid with his MBA, from Harvard going down there and working with them and convincing them that if they grew a different strain of yucca, they could sell the extra because the strain that they were growing was perishable too quickly, they perished too quickly. But there were strains of yucca that would last longer, that would last long enough to get to market. And then he did a little research and he figured out that if they dip the yucca in paraffin wax, it last even longer. And now there’s this cooperative in the area of these subsistence yucca farmers who cooperated together.
They’ve got a huge factory processing yucca, they’re selling it and they’re all making money off of their land. And they’re being raised out of poverty through their own work. But here’s a kid with an MBA from Harvard who went down and said, God’s given me a talent, and I need to find a place to apply this to apply this to help others. And he’s living a rich life, and he’s using his talents and his education and there’s so many people in the church that have those kinds of gifts that we could bring to bear on a ministry like Shepherd and caring for those in poverty.