When we hear the word “poverty”, the majority of us think of individuals who are facing severe economic struggles. This could be accompanied by preconceived notions of what they look or smell like – their background, ethnicity, or how they ended up in their predicament.
“When Helping Hurts” (written by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert) has been a vital resource in shaping our mission and ministry model. We’ve grown to understand that “Poverty is the result of relationships (with God, creation, others, and ourselves) that DO NOT WORK, that are NOT JUST, that are NOT FOR LIFE, that are NOT HARMONIOUS or enjoyable. Poverty is the ABSENCE OF SHALOM in all its meanings.”
With that in mind, we see that poverty is a much broader, universal issue, especially when it comes to our relationship with God. Romans 3:23 tells us: “…EVERYONE has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence.” That means every person – regardless of titles, bank accounts, possessions, and accolades – is spiritually destitute. Our sin puts all of us in a helpless, hopeless, and desperate state. Outside of Christ, we are spiritually and morally bankrupt. Thankfully, we serve a God, Who while being just, is also full of mercy and love.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again” (John 3:16-17).
Christ alone brings restoration…
- In our relationship with God.
- Internally, we return to what He created us to be.
- We grow in confidence and competence as we serve others.
So while we offer a volunteer based/credit earning system, an expanded grocery and thrift store, educational opportunities and access to technology and childcare…sharing God’s love is at the core of our mission, because He alone can produce meaningful and lasting change.
“Ultimately, the profound reconciliation of the key relationships that comprise poverty alleviation cannot be done without people accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. While the biblical model is that the gospel is to be communicated in both word and deeds, the Bible clearly indicates that without the verbal proclamation of the gospel, one cannot be saved” (Corbett/Fikkert).
Recently, a member of the community referred to Salt & Light as a social service agency with a faith component. To the contrary, S&L is a faith community…a family committed to honoring and obeying God. Along with that comes opportunities for individuals to identify and utilize their assets in productive and meaningful ways so they can provide for themselves and their families.
This interpretation of Romans 3:23 put it best: “Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ” (The Message).
Why are we committed to fighting poverty with dignity? GOD started it.