Multiply Justice

What Every Church Member Should Know about Poverty

Bill Ehlig, Ruby K. Payne

what every church member know povertyTo help individuals and communities overcome poverty, you first must understand poverty. Then you must have a systematic approach that helps people create a stable foundation for holistic life progress.

Bill Ehlig of Missouri Street Church of Christ in Baytown, Texas, provides a church leader’s perspective on Ruby Payne’s foundational insights into the mindset of people in poverty and how to help them see a path forward to a better life. The result is a book that will help church members enter truly redemptive relationships with people in need.

Ruby Payne‘s model calls for cooperation and collaboration across all sectors of a community to address the root causes of poverty, support individuals as they build resources, and achieve a sustainable community where everyone can live well.

Based on research based into the causes of economic class, this practical, non-political approach provides a practical model to address poverty at the individual, institutional, and community levels. By building relationships of mutual respect between and among people in different life circumstances, the model encourages knowledge sharing and innovation in a systemic approach to building resources in all aspects of daily life. Strategies that work are developed, and individuals embed them into their daily routines.

Click here to view on Amazon.com

(Purchase benefits Multiply Justice partner projects)

A large serving of dignity

archeMark Davis writes, in this 2012 article for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, about L’Arche, a home where people with developmental disabilities live full time with folks who have none:

The chicken, big chunks of white meat, went first. It popped and sizzled in hot olive oil. Sara Ellet reached for an onion the size of a baseball. A knife flashed and, moments later, the onion was cooking, too. The air filled with the aroma of good things.

John Hudson, bouncing on his feet with impatience, stood at her side. Is anything better than white Texas chili on a cold afternoon?

For Ellet and Hudson, 28 and 30 respectively, their shared moment at the stove was another small declaration of mutual respect: One encourages the other.

They’re residents of L’Arche Atlanta, where people with developmental disabilities live full time with folks who have none. The house, which opened last month in Decatur’s Oakhurst community and is the only L’Arche home in Georgia, has six occupants. That sum is equally comprised by “core residents” — those needing help in their daily lives — and “assistants” who’ve signed up to spend at least a year living with them.

A rambling old farmhouse that once temporarily sheltered homeless people, the L’Arche house is home to Ellet, Hudson, Jessica Bridges, Tim Moore, Terry Hochschild and Lara Swenson.

Bridges and Moore, like Ellet, are assistants, paid small annual salaries to live inside the thick-plaster walls of the L’Arche home. Bridges is the home’s coordinator, making sure schedules are kept, budgets followed. They’re all drivers, appointment-makers, confidants, friends.

Hudson, Hochschild and Swenson are core residents. Each has mental or physical disabilities and needs help in daily life.

So far, said Bridges, the arrangement is living up to the L’Arche principle that people, no matter their handicap, should be treated with dignity in an environment that stresses the spiritual aspects of life.

“This is a way to live in the world that’s hopefully a little more gentle,” said Bridges, 28, who has a master’s degree in divinity and is a deacon in the United Methodist Church.

Hudson was more succinct. “I live here,” he said, “and I like it.”

L’Arche is French for “the ark,” a reference to the floating refuge Noah created at God’s command. It began in 1964 when Frenchman Jean Vanier opened his home to two developmentally disabled adults. He had no grand plan. Vanier simply believed people of differing physical and mental abilities could live together, respecting the capabilities of one another.

“To work for community,” he later wrote, “is to work for humanity.”

Read the full text of this inspiring article by clicking here.
Learn more about L’Arche International by clicking here.

Syria: The sounds of war echo in the children’s ears

Syrian children are being crippled by the ongoing violence in their country. The war has become “the biggest humanitarian tragedy since the Rwandan genocide,” says UN refugees commissioner Antonio Guterres. An estimated 3 million Syrians have fled the country, 6.5 million are displaced within the country, and 3 million more need humanitarian help.

Our humanitarian partner, BGR, shares this compelling story:

syria_child_gun_c__large

Click photo to enlarge

BEIRUT, Lebanon — With dirt on her face, the small girl shyly approached the crowd holding a pack of lighters for sale. Barely reaching the height of an adult’s waist, she glanced upward at passersby asking in Arabic if they would purchase one of her multicolored lighters. When asked how old she was, she responded shyly that she was 4.

Walking the streets of Beirut, Lebanon, it is impossible to miss the children weaving through the cars and crowds. They walk up to strangers holding items to sell, such as lighters, roses, gum packets and a variety of non-essential items.

As each day passes of the Syrian conflict that began in March 2011, the childhood and futures of many Syrian children are threatened.

The conflict erupted into a full-scale war that has destroyed homes and schools — and left the children’s innocence in the rubble. Children have watched as they lost family members and as explosions destroyed their schools. Some have experienced physical wounds themselves.

More than 5 million Syrian children are affected by the ongoing conflict, and it is estimated that more than half of the 2.2 million Syrian refugees are children, the UN says.

As many families have been internally displaced, children are forced to begin to work to help provide for their families, are recruited for the militia or are advised to stay in doors to not be harmed. Some children have been out of school for three years and are forgetting what they have previously studied.

Rayan* works for a ministry in Syria whose sole initiative is to provide education and trauma therapy to children. She explains how many of the children have lost their fathers and brothers to the war, the men fighting on either side of the forces.

While the teachers provide the children with the opportunity to learn English, Arabic and math, the teachers also believe it is important to teach the children not to have hatred or suspicion of one another and learn to love each other.

“Children feel like they are rejected. They are feeling [this] because they are children of rebels or terrorists and feel conflicted,” Rayan said. “People tell them they are the reason for why everything is happening. But I say, ‘You are children. God loves you. You are not the reason for what has happened; you are the hope of Syria.’”

In addition to the threat of young boys being involved in the fighting, girls face the risk of sexual violence. Desperate not to subject their daughters to potential horrors, many families are deciding to marry their daughters to suitors in Syria and abroad. Early marriage sometimes is used as a “cover” for sexual exploitation, a recent report from Save the Children said. The girls are “divorced” after a short time and sent back to their families.

Outside of Syria, children face a different type of potential harm.

An increasing number of children have taken to the streets of Lebanon to sell or beg for money. Lebanon houses more than 826,669 registered Syrian refugees, with 52 percent of them being children. Many of the children are not in school and they are resorting to street work or manual labor to help provide for themselves or their families. The UN is launching a “Back to Learning” campaign, which “provides for informal education so children don’t fall too far behind.”

Another country greatly affected by the war, Jordan, is working alongside NGOs to provide schooling for Syrian refugees. More than half a million Syrians that were registered with the UN refugee agency at the end of September, were women and children. Children from 5 to 17 make up 25 percent of the Syrian refugee population in Jordan, according to the New York Times.

Organizations throughout the region are fighting not to let this generation of children be forgotten. Faris*, a Christian Syrian, said, “We have so many kids that are growing up with the sounds of war. These kids — they shouldn’t have to listen to that. They should have a place that is peaceful and secure and not have to worry about the war. That is a big [prayer] request,” he said.

As Syrian Christians are working tirelessly to help the children around them who are struggling, organizations and ministries are working outside of Syria. The reason Rayan continues in her ministry to children in Syria is because “we want to show them that we are always available for them. We are standing with them.”

*Names changed for security reasons.

How can you help? Click here to find out.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: