What if you were born into extreme poverty? Take a minute to walk in your brother's flip flops.
Living in poverty, you don't have the money for milk, vegetables, and nutritious food. By the time you are a teen, you have lost five adult teeth and aren't surprised when a sixth one breaks off while you're eating chicken at a friend's house. Your dad leaves you because he's feeling worthless and looking for a financial escape. Your mother dies when you are 13. School is difficult because you are always hungry and you can't think clearly. You can't do homework because it gets dark around 6:30 in the tropics and you don't have electricity. You have diarrhea often because you can't afford bottled water or toilet paper. It's hot in your 6 x 8 plywood shack with one cinder block wall, so you lie down on piece of damp cardboard on the dirt floor. Your 4-year old sister cries because she is hungry. When you drop out of school at 14, you shut the door on future employment and lock yourself into the prison of poverty. You are one of millions in the Global Church on planet Earth. You ask Jesus to send you help. Will He hear your desperation? He sends a family who brings you hope. Jesus starts a school for you. Jesus sends you a team of Christians who mentor, educate, and pastor you. Inside of you, where it had died long ago, hope is born again.
The riptide of generational poverty can be escaped. Normal, everyday people have to go to give a hand up, out of the current. It starts with the gospel and a smile. It continues with discipleship, meals together, homework help, starting a school, mentoring teenagers, teaching parenting classes, and helping college students get jobs and earn scholarships. It ends when those students grow up, get married and have the skills to raise their children Biblically. For Christians in the Global Church, the question we should ask God is, "Will I go or will I send?"
All born-again Christians are part of the global church. We've all escaped from the wrath to come and are supposed to live lives of thankfulness and purpose. As Christians, our purpose is to glorify God with our talents, time, and resources, and make disciples. That is a full-time life, so to speak. It is also something that is very difficult to do if you live in hunger, survival mode, and struggle with feeling worthless. It is impossible to glorify God with your talents when you've never developed those talents and gifts. If you live in extreme poverty, you have struggles that many of your other siblings in Christ have no concept of. You need some mature Christians to come to you, encourage you and build you up: Build you up into a Christian who can glorify God with your talents, resources and relationships.
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11.
Generational Spiritual Blessings
God gave kids their parents to teach them how to grow up and glorify Him with their talents, lives and work. Parents are designed to teach their children the Bible and how to apply God's word in all aspects of their lives. As parents and children apply God's word to daily life choices, they start to reflect the purpose that God created them for: They start to reflect the glory of God's character in their daily lives. They enjoy a vibrant relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Children learn how to make life choices from their parents. One pair of parents making healthy, godly choices will create a family culture. That family culture will change behaviors two to three generations later. Biblical, generational parenting builds another layer of godly life habits with each successive generation.
Culture runs deeper than education because it is learned from birth. It takes a concerted effort to replace one's culture with educated choices. Christian parenting combines Biblical family culture with the daily education in applying God's truth to life choices, creating a powerful momentum.
Physical poverty is not a sin, but it is difficult to escape from when it becomes generational. Poverty can create a feeling of worthlessness and fatalism. Generational poverty can also be difficult to escape because of inequitable social systems. For example, it might be hard to develop the level of hard and soft skills necessary to get a good job because your neighborhood school is underfunded and understaffed.
Within an environment of inequality, fatalism, and extreme poverty, the family culture can break down and contribute to generational spiritual and physical poverty. It's possible for parents to tear their family apart by their choices. Many times, these parents make these choices in an effort to bring good to their children. Instead, they further cement generational poverty into their prodigy.
Why would a mother leave her 5-month old baby with an aunt and move away to Dubai? Why would a father leave his two sons with their mother and move to another city to work a part-time job? Why would a mother invest the best years of her life to raise another families' children, when her children are raising themselves? What happens to their children? What will happen to their grandchildren? One thing that I've noticed living here in the Philippines is the significant amount of children without a nuclear family. Some of the effects are broken identities, sexual abuse, emotional detachment, and minimal education. Who will stand in the gap for these kids? Who will teach them a Biblical worldview, and stop the cycle?
Go Make Disciples.
The first point to meditate on is that all of us are born into spiritual poverty and are broken by nature. We are broken reflections of the God who we were created to serve and worship. Our purpose is to reflect the glorious characteristics of God in our lives, relationships, neighborhoods, and work and to enjoy an intimate relationship with God throughout that process. Sin has cracked us, resulting in distorted reflections of God's character.
"He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." Jesus in John 12:25
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." Jesus in Luke 9:23
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12
The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. Isaiah 9:2