Easy Answers to Poverty
Nowhere in my travels have I seen a greater discrepancy in
economic condition than in Windhoek, Namibia, Africa. In the city proper, there are more luxury cars, 5 star restaurants, and fancy hotels per block than in most US cities. Still, just outside the city limits, there are thousands living in tin huts without running water, plumbing, heat, or electricity.
Crime is high, but hope is not.
Searching for Solutions
Many well-meaning and even Godly people have proposed "easy"
answers to this problem. Often, the solution they offer is to send money. This money may go to government agencies which are often known to be red-tape-bound, and wasteful. Others send money to churches or relief agencies who do help with basic needs, yet the problems continue long after the relief funds run out.
Others pursue a more aggressive approach. They seek to forcibly take money from the wealthy and redistribute it to the poor. This socialist approach always fails for several reasons. First, the rich are too smart to be taken advantage of in this way and thus "hide" their money from these efforts. Also, the poor don't know how to effectively manage the money they are given such that it is wasted and doesn't produce long-lasting, positive change.
Only One Option
The tendency then is to think that there are no solutions--or at least no easy ones. I would argue that there is one and, although challenging to implement, it's an easy one to understand. It's a God-given change of heart.
Notice this prophecy about what Christ would offer through His "New Covenant" deal with His people in Ezekiel 36:26 "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."
The answer is a heart transplant--one made possible by the very real presence of the living God in someone who has committed his life to Jesus as Lord and Savior! This new heart allows the rich to be generous and help with what I call "hand-up" solutions which emphasize personal opportunity, initiative, and responsibility. This same new heart allows the poor to have hope and to take advantage of those opportunities, thus experiencing dramatic change.
So Christians, our best offer and gift at this time of year, (or any time of year for that matter), is to share the gospel and promote the kind of outreach which will lead to people becoming devoted Christ-followers. Food is good. Money is a help. Toys or gifts to children are wonderful. Still, the best and easiest long-term solution is to give people what they REALLY need. And what they need is Jesus....
To that end,