After growing up in poverty in East Los Angeles, Rudy Carrasco dedicated his adult life to pursuing “effective compassion” among those in need, working in urban ministry and investing heavily in poor communities.
“I just wanted to see the miracles that God did in my life happen in the lives of others,” Carrasco explains in an excerpt from PovertyCure series. “…I’ve made lots of mistakes, but I’ve learned from others around me about what is most effective.”
Through those experiences, Carrasco discovered that the most significant transformation often comes from private enterprise and small businesses. Rather than focusing only on individual charity or various government interventions, he argues, Christians should put far more effort into hands-on economic leadership, empowerment, and discipleship.
“I think the number one thing Christians can do to fight poverty now is to increase the amount of business that is done everywhere in the world,” Carrasco says. “To do that, we need business people.”
Such a solution, he points out, provides a path forward in an ever-changing economic landscape, equipping people to embrace their God-given talents and creativity and participate in authentic community growth:
I’ve been in urban environments for years. I know so many men coming out of prison, so many people coming through high school, graduating or dropping out, who don’t have the skills needed for the new technological age. But if they turn their attention to small business and small enterprise, those very things could transform lives.
It just sounds like words sometimes and language and verbiage, but I’m telling you, I’ve been in the trenches. I know what it’s like. I know how desperately we need jobs, real jobs, jobs that are not driven by a government handout because the government money will dry up, jobs that are not driven by a grant because the grant runs out, real jobs that comes from real profit and business owners do unique things.
Rather than relying only on temporary handouts and quick fixes, “real jobs” and “real profit” pave the way to real collaboration, real growth, and long-term flourishing.
It’s an important reminder for us as we engage in our own local communities, but it’s also a reality we ought to remember and reflect in our policy-making, from local municipalities all the way up to macro-level entitlements and trade policy.
“I’ve seen lives transformed by a single individual putting their attention and their focus on a profit-making enterprise,” says Carrasco. In our aim to empower people and transform communities, let’s not underestimate the power of business.